My Turkey Meatballs and Gravy Casserole is a fabulous idea for a Thanksgiving casserole or Christmas one pan dinner. This dish has comfort food written all over it! With fresh herbs and tender meatballs cooked with ‘from scratch’ gravy along with celery and carrots, how could anything go wrong? If waiting 8 hours for a roast turkey to cook isn’t your thing, ditch the bird and make this instead!!!
How many times have you had a craving for the flavors of a roast turkey dinner with all the fixin’s during other seasons of the year? Well, I do all the time and this Thanksgiving Casserole is just what the Turkey Dr. ordered to satisfy the craving.
This dish is made casserole style – all in one pan so it couldn’t be easier. The meatballs are cooked in oil, then removed. Carrots, celery, onions and garlic are cooked in the same pan in butter with chicken stock added and the pan drippings are thickened with flour. Then… those lovely meatballs are added back into the pan, then simmered on low so they cook through and the gravy thickens.
How to know when the meatballs are cooked
The best way is to use a meat thermometer, they should read 165°F/73°C. If you have browned them evenly and cooked them for the 15 minutes in the oven, this should be sufficient time for golf ball sized meatball.
Tips for the making the best meatballs
Don’t be heavy handed with the meat; mix it gently. Mix it only until all the ingredients are incorporated or they could turn out tough and chewy.
Refrigerate them before cooking. This gives helps them keep their shape while cooking. You want your meatballs to stay ball shaped, after all!
Don’t overcrowd the pan when cooking. Space these little guys out in an even layer. If they touch each other they will steam and not brown. (see picture above).
Add melted butter along with milk. Because turkey is lean, the added fat makes them very tender and soft and the milk adds moisture.
Turkey meatballs with fresh herbs are cooked in a delicious from scratch gravy.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
For the meatballs:
4 tablespoons (55 grams) butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, chopped
¾ teaspoon salt
1 large egg, whisked
1 pound (453 grams) ground turkey
½ cup plain breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or enough to cover the bottom of your pan)
For the gravy:
1 tablespoon butter
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 stick celery, chopped
1 cup (100 grams) about ½ a medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 fresh sage, chopped
3 tablespoons all purpose/plain flour
3 cups (708 ml) low sodium chicken stock, warm
Salt to taste
To a large bowl add the butter, onion powder, rosemary, sage and salt, mix well. Add the turkey, breadcrumbs and egg. Use a fork or your hands to lightly mix, just until evenly combined (don’t over mix or they will be too dense).
Shape the meat into 18 golf ball size meatballs. The meat will be sticky, wetting your hands will prevent them from sticking.
To cook on the stove: To a large oven-proof pan over medium heat add the vegetable oil, enough to cover the bottom of your pan. When hot, add the meatballs in an even layer (leaving room in between each ball) and brown evenly. You may have to work in batches as to not crowd the pan to ensure they are lightly brown all over. Once they are all browned, remove and set aside (they don’t have to be cooked all the way through).
To cook in the oven: Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C. To an oven-safe pan add half the oil to the bottom of the pan. Place the meatballs evenly apart. Drizzle the tops with the rest of the oil. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and remove the meatballs from the pan.
Turn the oven down to 350°F/°180°C.
To the same pan, over medium heat add the butter. When melted and bubbly, add the carrots, celery and onions. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes until slightly softened. Stir in the garlic and sage, sprinkle in the flour, stir well to cook the flour, don’t brown or burn. Slowly add the chicken stock while whisking until it starts to thicken. Taste for salt (the amount will depend on how salt your stock is). Add the meatballs and stir to coat well.
Transfer to the oven and bake uncovered for 15 minutes until the gravy is thick and the meatballs are cooked all the way through. Using a meat thermometer, the meatballs should have an internal temperature of 165°F/73°C.
You can also just cook them on the stove top until the meatballs have an internal temperature of 165°F/73°C.