Updated: May 28, 2020
In the spirit of all things meatballs... I attempted a Chicken Marsala meatball over a pasta in the same brown sauce. The meatballs in these photos were made with beef, pork, veal, and fried. You are FREE to do that, but I would also suggest using Turkey or Chicken meat. It's way lighter (has way less fat...) and you can bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 375 (on a lightly greased baking sheet). The Marsala sauce has a distinct flavor that I would describe as "dark and tangy" with notes of mushroom. I'm personally a huge fan and I would suggest anyone try it! Please look at Instagram highlights for "How-to". Visuals are helpful!
Good For: A special weeknight or weekend meal. Although it is similar to making Francese, the additional steps cutting and then cooking the mushrooms take some time and add about 20-30 min, taking away from the ease of "under an hour".
For the Meatballs
- 1 lb chicken or turkey meat. I like 93% lean turkey (it has fat so it's not as dry). But whatever you prefer!
- 1 C Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1 C seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/2 C fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3 finely chopped mushrooms, COOKED in 1 tsp of oil for 3-5 min until the water is removed
- Spices to taste: these are rough measurements but mean to imply ratios: 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tsp red pepper, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried parsley, a good amount of salt
For the Sauce
- 5-8 sliced mushrooms of choice. I like to experiment with all different types!
- Pasta of Choice. I like to try fun shapes, but Penne would work well.
- 1 C Marsala wine
- 1 C chicken or beef stock (beef would be better)
- 1/2 C to 1 C of starchy Pasta water to taste (add to your sauce to thin/thicken)
- 1/2 C - salted butter
- 4 TBSP flour
- 2 Squeezes of Lemon Juice
- lemon zest (to garnish)
- Salt/Pepper to taste.
1) Cook chopped mushrooms and put to side to cool.
2) Combine all meatball ingredients, trying not to touch the meat too much, and form into small 1-1.5 inch balls. Add the cooked mushrooms.
3) Cook your meatballs one of the following way:
-If you are using beef/pork/veal mixture, fry until brown on all sides but NOT cooked through. They can and should be pink inside.
-If you are using chicken/turkey, I think they should be put in the oven for 15 min at 375. Make sure to coat with olive oil first.
*These can be reversed (you can fry the turkey or bake the beef/pork but make sure you fry the turkey all the way through).
2) Once meatballs are complete, put to side.
3) Begin cooking your pasta in a pot of salted water. Once the pasta is almost done cooking, reserve 1-2 C of starchy pasta water.
4) If you fried meatballs, add your sliced mushrooms to the same pan and begin to sear mushrooms so they become brown and leave flavor in the pan. If you did not fry, add 3 TBSP of olive oil to pan and cook mushrooms. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5) Once mushrooms are browned, add butter to mix.
6) Let butter melt and add flour. Mix it around until there are no clumps and the flour cooks into the mushrooms/butter.
7) Deglaze pan with wine, scraping the bottom. Let wine reduce 5-8 min until it no longer smells like alcohol.
8) Add stock/pasta water/lemon juice and let cook down for 5-10 min. TASTE IT to be sure it does not still taste like wine! It should be a thick sauce the consistency of milk or cream. Make sure to whisk occasionally to assure there are no lumps of flour.
*To Adjust: Add pasta water. If it seems to watery, add flour. If too thick, add more water.
9) Add meatballs into sauce and coat.
10) Combine everything and top with lemon zest and parsley.
- It's very difficult for me to give exact ratios for the sauce. I've looked them up online and tried to double it since you are putting it on the pasta. But, it's really easy to 'fix'. You use the reserved pasta water if its too thick, and you have the flour to thicken if too thin. I also add butter for extra flavor.
- Make sure you pay attention to the cooking sauce. If you let it simmer too long, it will come apart and burn, and ruin the whole dish. You have to pay attention, whisk, and reduce the appropriate amount of time. Once you have a feel for this type of sauce, it's easy!
- In order to make 'paying attention' easy, its helpful to cook and drain your pasta a few min in advance, put it back into the pot with oil and butter (so it doesn't stick) and go from there. If you're trying to do everything at once, things get confusing.