These are light as a feather and seem to invite a confession, like when my dear friend the singer/songwriter Sam Smith explained they thought Mexico was in Spain while we fed these beauties to them.
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
75ml whole milk
500g minced turkey thighs
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten
40g pecorino or Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve
2 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried oregano
about ¼ nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp fine salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp paprika (mild or hot)
2 × 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 large handful of basil leaves
½–1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
salt and pepper
First, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or shallow casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion and a good pinch of salt and gently fry for 5–10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes, then stir in the tomato purée and paprika and cook for another 2 minutes.
Tip in the tomatoes and chopped basil, then gently simmer for 20 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and a little sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes if needed.
Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Place the breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl and pour over the milk. Add the turkey, garlic, lemon zest, egg, cheese, oregano, nutmeg, salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Using your hands, gently combine, taking care not to overmix. With wet hands, gently shape the mixture into about 20 small–medium meatballs (about the size of golf balls – roughly 40g each and 5cm in diameter).
Gently drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, turning them after about 10 minutes and giving the pan a shake from time to time.
Remove the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve the meatballs with the basil leaves and a grating of pecorino or Parmesan.
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Table Manners: The Cookbook
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