08 September 2009

Polpette di tacchino con peperonata

Hooked by a beautiful photograph of luscious looking meatballs and intrigued by Gourmet Magazine's unique suite of ingredients, I tried out this tasty recipe for chicken meatballs with roasted red bell peppers. Except I made some alterations and therefore present to you polpette di tacchino con peperonata, aka turkey meatballs with red peppers.

Though baked, these meatballs retain moist interiors while the exterior takes on a tawny roasted color. Paired with soft sweet red peppers dotted with briny capers, this is a delicious combination of flavors and colors! If you work it right, you can get this on the table along with some crusty Italian bread and a green salad for a delicious meal in 45 minutes. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Polpette di tacchino con peperonata
(Turkey meatballs with roasted red peppers)

For peperonata:

3 red bell peppers, cut into 1 1/2" strips
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

For meatballs:

1 cup Italian bread torn into small pieces
1/4 cup milk
4 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 large egg
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper

First make the peperonata:
Preheat oven to 400°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Toss bell peppers with 1 tablespoon oil and sea salt, then roast in a 4-sided sheet pan in lower third of oven, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 35 minutes.

When finished roasting, sprinkle with capers, vinegar, and red pepper flakes and gently toss to distribute over all the peppers.

Make meatballs while peppers roast:
Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to distribute milk and break up the chunks of bread.

Saute pancetta, onion, and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.

Lightly beat egg in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon tomato paste, then gently combine with chicken, pancetta mixture, bread mixture, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. To get the most tender meatballs possible, avoid overworking the mixture. Form 16 meatballs and arrange in a baking dish. Brush the remaining tomato paste over the tops of the meatballs. The brushed tomato paste will add beautiful color to the tops of the baked turkey meatballs.

Bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, it'd be easy to throw together a salad of shredded carrot, thinly sliced celery and radishes, and red leaf lettuce. The fresh, crunchy salad plus some Italian bread rounds out the polpette and peperonata for a simple and flavorful meal!


Unknown said...

Erica, this looks great! I missed this in Gourmet. What do you think about using turkey instead? Too dry?

erica said...

I used ground turkey, and it was great! It is so much easier to find in the stores than ground chicken, and I don't think it was any drier or moister than chicken would be. Also, I don't think you have to worry about dry results, no matter how lean your ground meat is, as the pancetta adds back some fat and the milk-soaked bread adds more moisture.

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