Turkey-Ricotta Meatballs with Red Wine Sauce


It’s a testament to how good these meatballs are that I even have the inclination to talk about food right now.  The only thing I’ve had on my mind the past few days is my weekend, and more specifically the Mother’s Day that I didn’t even know I was going to love so much.

I promise I’m going to tell you about these heavenly meatballs, but first a little snippet of the Mother of all Mother's Day weekends...


Like most families, we get together as often as we can, but having everyone in the same place at the same time can be tricky.  But we not only got ourselves all together, but the party lasted for 3 days and turned out to include a few firsts…

 My first Mother’s Day with my new little grandson.

   My first Mother’s Day with my 3 amazing children and 5 incredible grandchildren around me

      My first Mother’s Day with my Mom in like 20 years

 Sigh.  It was beyond memorable. You can find a few more photos of my weekend here.

 OK.  I think I can talk about meatballs now.

And, oh man, are these ever the most incredible meatballs I’ve ever made.  And you know I’ve made a lot of meatballs in my day, so saying that these are head and shoulders above all of the others is not to be taken lightly.  They are definitely the best.

I was watching Michael Symon make these on his show a while back, well, he wasn’t exactly making these ones, but he was making meatballs and adding ricotta cheese to them, and I knew in my heart of hearts that this had to be a very good idea.  And it was.

Michael, of course, was making his meatballs with veal and beef and pork, and then he added 2 cups of ricotta cheese, and while I was totally on board with the concept, I was pretty sure that was going to be too much ricotta.  I like my meatballs to taste like meat, so I only added 1 cup of ricotta, and I like them to be at least sort of on the healthy side, so I made them with ground turkey.  I tweaked a few other ingredients, the most notable being the addition Kitchen Bouquet, which I described in detail here.

I found this recipe for Red Wine Sauce on The Kitchn website (which they paired with veal meatballs), and boy howdy if this wasn’t the perfect sauce for my turkey meatballs…incredibly fabulous, I tell you.   The recipe makes a ton of sauce, so I used the leftovers on spaghetti a few nights later and it was divine.

So here I am taking a short break from my Mother’s Day reverie to share not one, but two scrumptious recipes with you.  Yes, they’re that good.  Here are the recipes…

Turkey-Ricotta Meatballs with Red Wine Sauce

Click here for a printable recipe

This sauce and these meatballs go amazingly well together.  I suggest you make the sauce first and let it simmer while you put the meatballs together.  It's fabulous over pasta too!

Turkey-Ricotta Meatballs

1 cup ricotta cheese drained
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
¾ cup grated parmesan
¼ of a large yellow onion minced (about 1/3 cup)
1 egg (beaten)
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet (optional) 
1  1/3 lb ground turkey (not turkey breast) 

Flour for dusting
Olive oil for frying

Combine the first 9 ingredients and mix well.  Add the ground turkey, combining well with your hands until it all comes together.  Form into meatballs and then dust with flour.  I get all of the meatballs made and then place some flour in a bowl and then dip each meatball into the flour and then onto a rack or cookie sheet.

Meanwhile heat a little olive or grapeseed oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.  I just use enough oil to to thinly cover the bottom of the pan.  Brown the meatballs and then drop them into the red wine sauce to finish cooking.

Red Wine Sauce
Recipe courtesy of The Kitchn

1 small yellow onion
6 cloves garlic
Olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup beef or chicken broth
32-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
One 4-inch long sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat a large, deep sauté pan over medium high heat. (It should be large enough to hold the sauce ingredients, as well as most of the meat.) Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until very soft — about 10 minutes, turning the heat down if necessary.

Stir in the tomato paste and fry for a minute or two, stirring until well-incorporated. Pour in the wine and broth and bring to a simmer, then add the tomatoes, salt, and a generous amount of black pepper. Place the rosemary sprig on top, bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 60 minutes, covered. When the sauce has developed a deep, rich flavor, turn off the heat and puree with an immersion blender (or in a standing blender) until smooth.

Keep the sauce at a low simmer after you add the meatballs and let them cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.

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