The War of the Meatballs

More
brickman_meatballsintomato_3-17_post.jpg

vauvau/flickr


To try Sophie's recipe for turkey meatballs with pine nuts and golden raisins, click here, or click here for a recipe for a cinnamon-laced tomato sauce to accompany them.

One recent Sunday, I found myself on the hunt for a healthy meatball, for two reasons. One, who doesn't like a good healthy meatball? And two, my boyfriend makes phenomenal meatballs, and I was determined to one-up him.

His brain works in a way mine doesn't, which enables him, seemingly intuitively, to be good at things at which I'm awful: he can use Microsoft Excel, parallel park, thoughtfully answer inane questions lobbed at him during job interviews—the list goes on. (For fun, he once asked me to answer one such question: "How many golf balls can you fit on a plane?" I started with my base unit of measurement, the "dad," as in "one dad," because my father is six feet tall. I pictured dad-clones lying head to toe in the aisle of a 747, and reasoned that, for starters, the plane was 20 dads long.)

My boyfriend's ability, however, doesn't translate to the kitchen, where he's generally a mess—except when it comes to his signature dish, the meatball. With my sub-par reasoning skills, I figured that all I had to do to reclaim my position as "Better All-Around Cook Than Dave" would be to make an even better meatball. (I'm not competitive.)

To make things easy, I could have taken his recipe (base meats: ground veal, pork, and beef) and added ground bacon. Bacon makes everything better. But I had to go above and beyond. I had to make a tastier meatball that was also—healthier. So I'd be working with turkey meat, the other other white meat.

Dave's recipe calls for onions, garlic, parsley, Serrano peppers, bread crumbs, cheese, and egg to be mixed with the meats—standard meatball procedure. But with a turkey meatball, I'd have to pack in even more flavor. I added jalapenos, plumped-up golden raisins, and pine nuts toasted until they almost burned (a riff on Lidia Bastianich's turkey meatball recipe), then mixed in more egg than usual, and a few glugs of milk to keep the meatballs moist.

Nervous that baking wouldn't yield a brown and crispy crust, I seared the meatballs in a pan, baked them in the oven until they cooked through, then simmered them in a rich tomato sauce to ensure juiciness. With a deep caramel color on the outside, they looked delectable.

I invited some friends over to ensure that the taste test would be fair. Minutes after we sat down, their bowls of food had been devoured. I had to make more spaghetti on the fly, and one friend asked me for the recipe the next day, both good signs.

Still, it wasn't until I received an email from Dave two days later around lunchtime that I exhaled. He'd taken the leftovers to work. Entitled "Turkey Meatballs," it said, simply: "Yours might be better than mine. I'm serious."

Victory.

Recipe: Turkey Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins
Recipe: Classic Tomato Sauce with a Twist

Jump to comments
Presented by

Sophie Brickman is a writer living and cooking in New York City. More

Sophie Brickman is a writer living and cooking in New York City. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the French Culinary Institute.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In