Meatballs with Fennel Salad



For meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pound ground pork shoulder
  • 2 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red chile flakes
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

For sauce:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 head garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon red chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 (16-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes and their juices, crushed by hand
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, pork, bread crumbs, milk, garlic, eggs, rosemary, chile flakes and salt and pepper and mix with hands until just combined. Form into 5-ounce balls and place in a shallow casserole. Roast in the oven until dark golden brown. Set aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Meanwhile, in a large oven-proof skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until well browned. Add the chili flakes and salt and pepper, to taste. Add the rosemary and red wine and stir until the wine is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the meatballs, transferring to a large container if necessary, and cook in the oven 2 1/2 hours. Serve in shallow bowls with the sauce, topped with the parsley leaves.
After many tweaks, I’ve found a few substutions that work really well for me:
– ROSEMARY: substitute with herbs de provence 
  (rosemary is way too pungent, overpowers the flavors and smells too much like thanksgiving)
– BREAD CRUMBS: Without bread crumbs, you still end up with meatballs. They’re just
  a little harder to form. I usually double the recipe but go with about 1/4 cup breadcrumbs 
  just to hold them together a bit.
– COOKING: I’ve tried the cooking these in a oven-proof skillet. Since I make so many at a time, the quality doesn’t
  seem to change if you simply leave them in a shallow casserole, top with the sauce, and cover with foil.
Fennel Salad
4-5 medium- large heads fennel
1/3 c. lemon juice
1/2 c. olive oil (a high-quality, virgin option tastes best)
Using a mandoline, slice up the fennel heads. Add lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Fresh ground pepper optional.
Making this one day ahead of time allows the flavors to marinate beautifully.

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