Let’s get one thing straight.
I am all for creative ways to use up a plethora of otherwise boring food (helloooo, chicken and zucchini) but I totally draw the line at trying to figure out what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers before the sun has barely set on The Day of Gluttony. We spend WEEKS trying to find the best stuffing, and then immediately try to repackage it as a crispy topping for turkey tetrazzini. This is wrong.
You want to know what I do with leftover turkey? Exactly what I do with leftover stuffing, gravy and cranberries: I pile them high on a plate, pop them in the microwave, and enjoy an exact replica of the previous day’s activities. Then I go to bed and dream about more leftovers. Then I wake up and eat said leftovers. Know the best way to pass the time before Cyber Monday? Eat leftovers.
(Of course, every rule has an exception, and the exception to my leftover rule is the coveted Leftover Sandwich.)
I’m sorry to rant. Really, we can still be friends if you make turkey tetrazzini. It’s just that I didn’t get to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year and therefore have no leftovers and I’m jealous of those who have them and squander them by eating them in any other form than the way nature intended: as Thanksgiving dinner, episodes 1-5. My freezer doesn’t have a carcass in it. My heart is empty. I’m turkey testy.
Over the next few weeks I do plan to live out my Thanksgiving fantasy and make stuffings, sides, birds, etc. Let’s call it market research for next year.
So, while I’m knee-deep in all the Thanksgiving issues of all my favorite food mags, ripping out pages like a woman possessed, let’s take a different route down tryptophan lane with…
Spicy Turkey Meatballs.
What makes these great is that (a) hello, they’re meatballs, and (b) they contain sausage, prosciutto, Asiago and crushed red pepper. AND you bake them. Maybe that’s not an appealing quality to meatball purists, but not dealing with the mess of frying is totally up my alley. And I don’t have a Nonna to beat me with a wooden spoon for not frying. Once they’re baked, you simmer them in sauce. You can make your own sauce or you can use a really, really good jarred sauce because homemade sauce + meatballs is biting off a little too much for a weeknight.
I served these over mashed rutabaga, and my child shoveled the whole mess down the hatch. Love her.
If you do decide to let your child shovel these into her face, just make sure to have a grandissimo sippy cup of water nearby to counteract the heat imparted by even a pinch of crushed red pepper. Then have a grandissimo glass of Chianti to reward yourself for cleaning up the mess from letting your child shovel saucy meatballs into her face. Don’t ask me how I know these things- I just do.
I know some of you might be turkey’d out- but in my mind, that’s only if you cooked a 20-lb bird only to have all of your dinner guests cancel because they came down with smallpox. If this is the case, you can totally use ground beef or pork or a mix.
OK, now I’m off to read the New York Times. Or the Bon Appetit with a big, glistening bird on the cover. Yup!
- 3 cups bread cubes from a rustic loaf (I used whole wheat)
- ⅔ c whole milk
- 2 lbs ground turkey
- ½ lb sweet Italian sausage
- 4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
- 1 c freshly grated Asiago cheese
- ½ c minced fresh parsley
- 1 t dried oregano
- ½ t crushed red pepper flakes*
- Kosher salt** and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 T olive oil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 jars good marinara sauce (Rao's is my favorite)
- Freshly grated parmesan
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Process bread in a food processor to make bread crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl, add milk, and set aside for 5 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, sausage, prosciutto, bread crumb mixture, Asiago, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1 t ground pepper. Combine ingredients with your hands, then add the olive oil and eggs, and mix thoroughly (your hands still work best!).
- Lightly roll the mixture into 2-inch-round meatballs and place them onto the prepared sheet pans (you'll get about 24 meatballs). Bake for 35-40 minutes, until tops are browned and centers are completely cooked.
- Pour marinara sauce in a large pot, add meatballs, and bring to a simmer. Serve meatballs over base of your choice (pasta, sub rolls, rutabaga, or naked), but make sure to top with plenty of fresh Parm!