Turkey meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce with harissa yoghurt and jalapenos

This is the only turkey meatball recipe you’ll ever need. The result is supremely succulent – almost melt-in-the-mouth-y – comforting but not so much so that you’ll need a nap post-feed, and suitably spicy. And if you faltered at the ‘turkey’ bit, let me assure you – as a self-confessed turkey naysayer – that these are just as good, if not better than their beef counterparts.

I think it’s the mushy mixture (bear with me!) that makes them tastier than other meatballs, and I must admit I knicked this in part from my boyfriend who knicked it in its entirety from Nigella. The Lawsonator makes a celery and onion mush for her meatball base, and I, having tried a number of alternatives ranging from butternut squash to extra onion because we never have celery in, use green pepper and onion. Methinks you can substitute any of these for your veg of choice but I can vouch for the pepper.

The tomato sauce is a riff on my go-to pasta sauce and has also been subject to much jiggery-pokery, encouraging me to dub it almost-perfect now. Do with that what you will and of course, feel free to tone down or amp up the chilli content to your liking. I say, more is more…

Toppings are up to you. Obviously, I prefer a maximalist approach and include some or all of the following: jalapenos, parmesan, fresh basil, cracked black pepper, yoghurt, harissa yoghurt.

homemade turkey meatballs, spicy turkey meatballs recipe, best turkey meatballs recipe, how to make turkey meatballs

homemade turkey meatballs, spicy turkey meatballs recipe, best turkey meatballs recipe, how to make turkey meatballs

Serves 4

 You’ll need:

For the meatballs

1 green pepper

1/2 red onion

1/2 white onion

500g turkey mince

1 free-range egg

1 tbsp Parmesan

1 tbsp Panko breadcrumbs

1 tbsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp coriander leaf

Salt & pepper

For the sauce

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 red chillis, finely chopped

2 cans chopped toms

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Cut the pepper and onion into large chunks and blitz in a blender – I use a NutriBullet. Scoop out a heaped tablespoon and add to a large mixing bowl with the rest of the meatball ingredients. Use your hands – not a spoon, you pansy! – to bring all the ingredients together but be careful not to over mix.

Once the meat mixture is combined, pinch off a bit and roll it into a ball. I make about 15 meatballs from this amount of mixture, so you’re looking for something a bit smaller than a golf ball. Of course, if you want bigger balls (ahem), that’s fine too – the main thing is that all your balls are the same size (stop it now), so they cook evenly.

Chuck the remainder of the green mush into a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, and then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Then, add the chopped tomatoes, as well as 1 can’s worth of water, a squeeze of tomato puree and a generous shake of Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste and then once it’s started bubbling, carefully add the meatballs. Leave for about 30 minutes on a medium heat.

Serve in generous bowls with a few out-of-the-jar jalapeno slices scattered on top and a couple of dollops of harissa yoghurt splodged around edges – you just need harissa spices and 5 tablespoons of natural yoghurt mixed together – plus whatever else you fancy. This is a great leftovers lunch too and will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

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Freelance writer, eater, drinker and cook living in London.

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