Monday, February 16, 2015

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

I know I probably mention how much I love each dish in every blog post (or else I wouldn't post the recipe!) but this could be my new favorite dinner.  I love Italian but we're not huge fans of pasta which seems to make up a good chunk of Italian recipes.  But this recipe gives all the right Italian flavors, is easy to make ahead of time, and I love serving it with good bread and a salad (and if I were drinking wine at this point, I would definitely serve that, too).  The best of all worlds, in my opinion.

I love the meatballs although honestly, I omitted the parmesan from them (because I forgot to buy it) so I'm sure they are great with or without the cheese in them.   I also added some extra vegetables to the marinara sauce and just blended it to make a smooth sauce.  Of course, you top it all with mozzarella (and more parmesan, if you have it) which is just delicious.

My husband thinks this would be great as a chicken parmesan meatball sub and I agree!  It's just that when I make it, we enjoy the leftovers so much that I never remember to make subs.  However, I'm thinking I might try to make the meatballs and sauce (and freeze them separately) before baby comes so maybe chicken meatball subs will finally make an appearance in our home!

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Taken from: Annie's Eats
Serves 4-6

For the sauce:
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes including liquid
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1½ tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (depending if you want it milder or hotter)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: sliced mushroom, chopped bell pepper, chopped spinach, etc
  • 1-5 tbsp. heavy cream or half-and-half (I've even omitted altogether as well)
For the meatballs: 
  • 1/3 cup dried panko
  • 1/3 cup grated onion
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley (I used 1 tsp. dried oregano instead)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil (I used 1/2 tsp. dried thyme instead)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I omitted)
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1½ lbs. ground chicken (I used just 1 lb ground chicken which worked out fine)
To finish: 
  • 2-4 oz. shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2-3 tbsp. minced fresh basil (optional)
  1. To make the sauce, add the can of tomatoes to a blender or food processor or use a hand blender.  Puree until smooth.  Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook about 1 minute, until it begins to soften.  Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, red pepper flakes, and any additional vegetables, and mix just until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato puree, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook about 5-8 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Puree sauce (this is where a hand blender is very convenient).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream, if using (you can do one tablespoon at a time until it reaches a taste you like).  Set aside, cover and keep warm.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  
  3. To make the meatballs, combine the panko, grated onion, parsley, basil, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic and egg.  Stir together with a fork just until blended.  Mix in the ground chicken and knead together gently until evenly combined.  Form the mixture into meatballs about 1- to 1½-inch in diameter.
  4. On a foil-lined baking sheet, place the meatballs in a single layer and cook for about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you could brown the meatballs by heating 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the meatballs to the pan in a single layer and let cook for a few minutes, turning occasionally, until all sides are browned.)
  5. Place the meatballs in the pan with the hot tomato sauce.  Sprinkle the mozzarella and additional Parmesan over the top.  Bake until the cheese is fully melted and bubbling and the meatballs are fully cooked through (to 165 degrees), about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and garnish with the fresh basil, if using.  Serve warm.


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