Wednesday, January 6, 2010

baked chicken meatballs

Naturally, after a write a rambling entry on going veg, let me give you a recipe for meatballs.

This was my first time making meatballs, especially of a western variety. When I was young, my mom made a chinese version of meatball soup. I remember watching her make spoonful rounds of the meat and drop them into the soup. Like magic, they stayed round and cooked before my eyes.

These are totally different, but also totally delicious. For starters, they are baked, which made them really easy. I've also never used ground chicken. It definitely made for a more subtle flavor compared to pork or beef, and I didn't feel so bad eating....many...of them.

I really enjoy this type of cooking because you can get creative and add whatever spices strike your fancy. For these, I added thyme, rosemary and cumin. These three all remind me of savory warmth that's perfect for the wintertime.

You can make these large to serve for dinner, or smaller to serve for appetizers or for a party. While they are baking, make some pasta and a salad and you're golden. Enjoy!

Baked Chicken Meatballs
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Gourmet

Serves 4, or more as appetizers or sliders
3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
1/3 cup milk
1 small onion, finely chopped
thyme, rosemary, cumin to taste
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large egg
1 pound ground chicken
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided*
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F with a racks the upper thirds. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.
Cook onion, spices, and garlic in one tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.
Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in another 4-sided sheet pan (I used a cookie sheet instead).
Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs (the paste/oil does not mix in any cohesive manner, but just smoosh it on and run with it) , then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (mine took 20).

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