Food by VICE

Thanksgiving Meatballs Recipe

Still not over Thanksgiving? Same. Keep the spirit alive with turkey meatballs and gravy for dipping.

by Joshua McFadden
Nov 25 2017, 8:00pm

Photo by AJ Meeker

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


for the meatballs:
1 rib celery, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
2 pounds 9 ounces ground turkey: dark, white, all of it
15 ounces ground pork
3 1/2 ounces diced bread croutons
1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 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 turkey or chicken stock

for the gravy:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


1. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium. Add the celery, carrots, and onion and cook until soft, 15 minutes. Add in the herbs and toss to coat. Cool completely.

2. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables 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 balls into 3-ounce|90 gram portions. I like to put the meatballs in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before hitting them with a little oil or in the oven. Baking or frying them helps to "set" the balls in their shape so you can braise them out in the 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. Do them in stages and just get them brown and holding their shape, about 2 to 3 minutes.

4. If you decide to pop them in the oven, heat it to broil and place the meatballs on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle them with some olive oil and bake until just golden, about 5 minutes.

5. To braise the meatballs, heat the oven to 300°F|150°C. Place the meatballs into a large saucepan and cover them with the stock. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Best thing to do is just check one, pull it apart, and look at the center. You want it just barely cooked through, not hammered. You don't want the stock boiling, just simmering away gently.

6. Once cooked, 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, about 6 minutes. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the braising liquid. 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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