Ina Garten's Shortcut For Deliciously Salty Meatballs

Meatballs are quite obviously known for their meat, which may come in the form of beef, pork, veal, turkey, chicken, and so on. Celebrity chef Ina Garten hones in on turkey for her meatballs, but also incorporates yet another kind of meat that's known for its salty flavor: prosciutto. This meat draws inspiration from the Italians and adds an extra oomph to standard fare.

Garten specifically points to prosciutto as a key ingredient for delicious meatballs. In an episode of the Barefoot Contessa, the chef's recipe pairs turkey and Italian sausage with chopped bits of prosciutto for a well-rounded and perfectly salted meatball mixture. On its own, prosciutto is best enjoyed in thin slices, but in meatballs, chopped bits are the way to go. They blend easily with both the turkey and sausage to create an amalgamation of meats with complementary flavors. Plus, by adding prosciutto, Garten keeps her meatballs flavorful without going heavy-handed on the salt.

As for what, exactly, prosciutto brings to the table ... its saltiness and its texture are to thank. Both play key roles in the success of Garten's meatballs, and underscore the importance of this popular Italian meat.

Prosciutto adds a salty burst of oh-so-Italian flavor to meatballs

In the realm of Italian cold cuts, prosciutto is king — thanks in no small part to its salty kick. Simply look at a menu at any Italian restaurant, and you'll quickly understand that prosciutto pairs well with everything. Think about sweet melon, fluffy focaccia, and robust cheeses: They're all good on their own, but even better when you add prosciutto to the mix.

It's therefore no surprise that prosciutto works successfully alongside other meats, whether in sandwiches, meatballs, or pasta recipes. In some tortellini recipes, for example, prosciutto acts as a delicious filling alongside the likes of pork and mortadella. While Garten uses turkey and sausage in her meatballs, prosciutto serves a similar function across the board. As a meat that is high in sodium, prosciutto adds saltiness to meatballs and elevates the dish from standard to exceptional. But be warned: Given the high salt content of prosciutto, when adding it to your meatball recipe, we recommend using a little less salt than what is called for.