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Thanksgiving Meatballs Recipe

All of the flavors of Thanksgiving packed into a light and savory meatball, smothered in a rich, velvety gravy.
Thanksgiving Meatballs Recipe
Photo by AJ Meeker

Serves 6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes


for the meatballs:
1 rib celery, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
3 tablespoons|40 grams unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
2 pounds 9 ounces|1 kilogram 165 grams ground turkey: dark, white, all of it
15 ounces|450 grams ground pork
3 ½ ounces|100 grams diced bread croutons
1 cup|250 ml heavy cream
2 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
20 cranks of coarse black pepper from a grinder
2 large eggs
canola oil, for frying or olive oil for drizzling
3 quarts|96 ml turkey or chicken stock

for the gravy:
¾ cup|125 grams unsalted butter 
¾ cup|100 grams all-purpose flour 
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium. Add the celery, carrots, and onion and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the herbs, then cool completely.
  2. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl with the ground meats, croutons, cream, salt, pepper, and eggs. Gently (don't smash the meat), just gently fold it over and over into itself and mix everything evenly. PRO TIP: to check the flavor, make a little patty and fry it up in a little oil and give it a taste. Does it taste good? Do you get all the herbs? Is the salt right? Is it too dry? Now is the time to make little adjustments.
  3. Form the meat into 25 (3-ounce|90 gram) balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Next, bake or fry them to help "set" the balls in their shape so you can braise them without having them stick in the oven. If you decide to fry them up, heat 2-inches of oil in a large pot over medium-high. Don't overcrowd the pot. Working in batches, cook the meatballs until brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. If you decide to pop them in the oven, heat it to broil and place the meatballs on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle them with some olive oil and bake until just golden, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once baked or fried, braise the meatballs. Heat the oven to 300°F|150°C. Place the meatballs into a large saucepan and pour over the stock. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Best thing to do to make sure they’re ready is to just take one, pull it apart, and look at the center. You want it just barely cooked through, not hammered, and the stock should be simmering gently, not boiling.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meatballs and set them aside. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids, and set the braising liquid aside.
  7. Wipe the saucepan clean and melt the butter over medium-high. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until brown, 6 to 8 minutes. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in 6 cups of the braising liquid. (Freeze the rest and save for soup!) Cook until thick, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and a lot of cracked pepper. Add the meatballs and serve immediately.

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