Today’s recipe for Instant Pot turkey meatballs over polenta is one of the many simple yet elegant dishes that can be made in this versatile cooker. These meatballs are hearty and flavorful. Best of all, the whole dish is light on calories and gluten free!
I’ve been making a version of these turkey meatballs for years, ever since Gwyneth Paltrow shared a recipe for them. I have a love-hate relationship with Gwyneth. She has pretty hair, and some of her recipes are good. Others are okay-ish. Some are flat out questionable. Her medical advice comes down to dangerous, apparently.
The main drawback to Gwyneth’s recipe — and all conventional meatball recipes — is the browning process. You know, the part that comes after forming the meatballs. After heating up a pan of oil until it’s shimmering, you plop the meatballs down in batches until they’re browned on all sides.
This part of meatball making makes me crazy. It’s messy and stressful. Sometimes the pan I pick isn’t the right one so that the meat sticks to it. I end up with flecks of fallen meatball over my pan. Halfway through, my pan gets too hot, and so the “browning” turns more into “blackening.” Sound familiar?
Enter the magic of the Instant Pot turkey meatballs. Because the Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, you can nestle your meatballs in a hearty bath of tomato sauce and let the pressure built up (through steam) cook the meatballs without them falling apart on you. No browning. No fuss.
As for the polenta, I love eating this creamy Italian corn “porridge” on cold nights. It’s such a filling, savory base for a saucy meatball concoction, but it also does well as the foundation for other heavier meats, like braised short ribs. You can even use polenta in the Southern classic shrimp and grits. It’s just a great way of mixing things up and elevating what is otherwise a very simple meal. Laying down these Instant Pot turkey meatballs on polenta is basically like saying, “Hey world, I could make spaghetti and meatballs, but tonight, I am fancy.”
- 1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
- ½ cup ground almonds (almond meal)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- 2 700 g (26 oz) jars of tomato passata (also called "strained tomatoes)
- 1 cup red wine
- salt and pepper
- 1 16 ounce (500 g) bag of polenta
- Set your Instant Pot on the "Saute" function (adjust the settings so it's on the "less" setting). Drizzle in some olive oil.
- While the Instant Pot is heating up, get a medium bowl and mix together the ground turkey, ground almonds, egg, Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add the diced onions to your Instant Pot and give it a good stir every once in awhile, making sure that the onion doesn't stick to the bottom of your Instant Pot. Continue to saute the onions for 5-7 minutes until the onions are translucent.
- While you're watching and working your onions, begin forming meatballs in your bowl. Pat together a small mound of the turkey mixture using your hands and form meatballs about 1.5" (2 cm) in size. Keep the meatballs in the bowl.
- After the onions are translucent, add the garlic and stir for about 1 minute. Pour in the red wine, 1 jar of tomato passata, oregano and sugar. Hit "cancel" on your Instant Pot to stop it from cooking on the saute function, then hit "saute" and adjust the heat again to "more." Bring the tomato mixture to a gentle boil, then hit "cancel" again so that your Instant Pot is now off.
- Once the tomato mixture has cooled a little, gently begin nestling the meatballs in the tomato sauce so that there's a single layer. Pour the second jar of passata into the Instant Pot, then nestle in another layer of meatballs on top of that passata.
- Put the lid on your Instant Pot and set it to the Meat/Stew function (or 35 minutes on manual).
- Once the Instant Pot is going, cook the polenta according the package directions and keep it warm on the stove.
- When the Instant Pot is finished its cycle, check the meatballs by taking one out of the Instant Pot and slicing through to make sure it's fully cooked (if it's not, close your Instant Pot and cook it for another 5 minutes on manual).
- Gently remove the meatballs with tongs onto a shallow serving plate. Stir the sauce one or two times to mix; if it feels runny, turn your Instant Pot on to the "saute" function (adjust to the low setting) and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes until it's reduced and thicker. Pour the sauce over your meatballs.
- Serve immediately by spooning the meatballs with sauce over shallow bowls of polenta. Garnish with more parsley and Parmesan cheese.
Looking for other Instant Pot recipes? Check these out:
- Instant Pot Chickpea Curry
- Instant Pot Pancetta and Bean Soup
- 3 Ingredient Instant Pot Chicken
- Instant Pot Mexican Pork Pibil
- Chicken Soup with Homemade Gnocchi