Baked Chicken Meatballs

Baked Chicken Meatballs

So as much as I’m a chicken lover for most of my eating (I get chicken at fast food places, too), I have always looked askance at ground chicken. Its texture is not like that of other ground meats! It gets too dense even more quickly than most! And it’s usually super low fat, which makes it ill-suited for juiciness. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find “dry and dense” appealing dinner attributes. So I was super duper surprised when smitten kitchen posted a chicken meatball recipe. And excited! Because chicken! And because I like meatballs, even though I can’t always convince myself they’re worth making (despite all the evidence to the contrary).

These would almost certainly work with ground turkey (though taste turkey-er). Ground beef may need balancing, since there would be a lot more fat released during the cooking of those; you wouldn’t want to add any fat at all and should drain the pancetta, onions and garlic really well.

These went over pretty well around here — they’re tender and flavorful. I’ve actually made them a few times before, but it’s been a while. I’d like some sort of sauce for dipping, in the end — sun-dried tomato mayo may work well, or a simpler sun-dried tomato sauce or fresh tomato vinaigrette — but they’re a good meal, not difficult to make at all and quite tasty.

Baked Chicken Meatballs, adapted very little from smitten kitchen

1 lb. ground chicken
3 slices Italian/French bread, torn to bits
1/3 c. milk*
4 oz. wee pancetta cubes
2 shallots, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 egg
2 Tbsp. tomato paste, divided
1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400F and make sure there’s a rack in the upper third.

Dump the chicken in a large bowl and set aside. Mix the bread and milk so the bread can sop (I do this in a measuring cup — I just use a 2-cup one for the whole operation) and let that sit for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, render the pancetta for a few minutes over medium-low heat and add the shallots to the pan. Turn up the heat to medium and cook until the shallots and garlic are soft and beginning to brown around the edges and the pancetta is crisp, 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mix cool a bit.

Beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the chicken, 1 Tbsp. tomato paste, the parsley and the cooled pancetta mixture. Squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add the bread. Mix gently until reasonably well-combined. Divide the mixture into quarters and roll each quarter into three meatballs. Put the meatballs on a baking pan.

Mix the remaining tomato paste and the olive oil — which is to say, break the tomato paste into smallish paste bits relatively evenly distributed in the oil. They won’t combine in any meaningful way. Smear the mixture atop the meatballs.

Bake for 25 minutes or so, until cooked all the way through. Let them sit for 5ish minutes once they come out. Enjoy!

*Non-dairy milk would probably work fine.

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~ by iliadawry on 22 March 2013.

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