Something magical happens between Christmastime and the New Year in Maine. Yes, quaint Main Streets from North to South are glittering in gold, silver, red and green, and our town squares look like Norman Rockwell had a field day, but even more magical than that it is the transformation that happens within our homes. Without ever taking notice or consciously taking action, Mainers find themselves surrounded by all things L.L. Bean. We’re clothed in flannel in every color of the rainbow, lacing up our Bean boots and dreaming beneath down comforters with black slashes on the tag. A true Mainer recognizes that black slash as a badge of honor; it means you got a wicked good deal on that comforter at one of the outlets or from a relative or friend that has access to one of the employee stores that are only accessible with a golden ticket. In other parts of the country, people rely on the calendar to tell them when winter has begun, but here in Maine, the arrival of winter is marked by our need to surround ourselves in a sea of L.L. Bean.
So, where am I going with this? I finally accepted that winter was here to stay when I realized I had formed a rather emotional connection to my indoor/outdoor weather station from the aforementioned outfitter. Every morning I wake up, take a deep breath to brace myself for the cold that waits just beyond my mountain of blankets, and stumble to my digital temperature reader propped on my kitchen windowsill. Each day the reading is more dismal than the last. The ice is thicker, my floors are colder and I am bringing in more and more wood for the woodstove. The way I see it, I have one of two options. I can figure out a way to hibernate. I have enough Bean flannel blankets, socks, hats, gloves and fleece lined pants to pull it off. Or, I can whip up some comfort food, drink some hot cocoa and watch the snowflakes fall outside my windows. Since the second option involves pasta, my ultimate comfort food, I will not be hibernating the year. Instead I will be making these meatballs, with a giant plate of linguine slathered in sauce.
The great thing about using sausage in meatballs is that you can easily alter the flavor depending on what you like or what you’re in the mood for. I always use sweet Italian sausage because that’s what we like, but you could substitute hot sausage without making any other modifications to the recipe.
- 1 20.8 ounce package of ground turkey
- 6 sweet Italian sausages
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup plain Panko-style breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- Remove the casings from the sausages and in a large bowl mix turkey, sausage meat, garlic powder, basil, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and lightly beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are well incorporated.
- Form mixture into 2 inch balls, making 20-25 meatballs, depending on the size of the sausages used.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over med heat. Brown the outside of the meatballs and transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover the tops of the meatballs with your favorite marinara. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until there is no longer any pink when you cut a meatball in half.
- Serve over your favorite pasta.
Photos: Kasey Ahlquist