SLOW-COOKED CHICKEN MEATBALLS

A little note added after publication: today is the first Monday of the month, so let me tell you which was my favorite post of January: Happy New Year in My Kitchen!  If you’ve missed it, here is the link.  But come right back, ok?  To see what many of my virtual friends pick as their best post, visit Sid’s blog.

Sometimes a dinner makes me so happy I cannot stop smiling. This was one.  Not only because it was delicious, but because I made it all in advance and we arrived home to a dinner ready and waiting, without that “crock pot taste” that so often is present when recipes take the “dump it and forget it” approach. Basically, not every type of meat shines during long cooking. These meatballs do. And they even hide a little surprise inside…

SLOW-COOKED CHICKEN MEATBALLS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from many sources)

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage (casings removed)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 bunch kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 cup almond meal
salt and pepper to taste
1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup water (or chicken broth)
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
small mozzarella balls, one per meatball

Start by sauteing shallots in coconut oil in a large skillet until translucent and fragrant. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then add the kale. Cook until wilted, transfer to a bowl and allow it to completely cool. If you like to cool it faster, add it to a baking sheet on a single layer.

In a large bowl, add the two types of meat, the sautéed kale, egg and egg yolk. Season with a little salt (the sausage is already seasoned), then add the almond flour.  Mix gently and form into large balls, incorporating a small mozzarella ball in the center. You should have enough for 8 to 9 chicken meatballs. Refrigerate them for one hour or more to firm them up. You can make this the day before.

Pour the crushed tomatoes in the bowl of a crock pot, add the water (or stock) and the butter cut into large pieces. Season with some salt and pepper, add the Herbes the Provence. Place the meatballs gently inside. Cook on low for 5 hours. If you have a chance, flip the meatballs after a couple of hours.

Serve right away or save in the fridge for next day, when flavors will be even better.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I prepared the chicken meatballs on Sunday, stored them in the fridge, started them cooking next day during our lunch break. My slow-cooker keeps the food warm for a couple of hours, so we don’t have to worry about rushing home in that type of situation. Mondays are usually tough. You’d think that we would be all relaxed after the weekend, but truth is there is so much to do around the house that by the time Monday comes we are seriously hoping it would be Friday instead… For that reason I try to plan a very easy dinner for the first evening of a working week.

Now, of course, not everyone is as spoiled as we are, having the chance to go home for lunch. Keep in mind you can always do the slow-cooking part in the evening, then enjoy them for dinner the day after, they only get tastier. I was thrilled that Phil decided to stick with his smoothie and cereal bar for lunch later that week. I did not have to share the leftovers…  Yes, he is a keeper. But I suppose I’ve mentioned that a few times.

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HONEY GLAZED SRIRACHA MEATBALLS

This one is for all the Sriracha lovers out there. Of all the hot sauces, Sriracha is my favorite because it’s not just about heat, there’s a lot of complex flavor packed in too. I always have a bottle in the fridge, and will squirt a little bit over turkey burgers, regular burgers, sweet potato fries, meatballs. Not too much, just that little touch that shakes the senses up. When I saw this recipe a while ago on Eat Yourself Skinny, I tried it almost immediately, with a few changes to suit my preferences. Phil is not as wild about Sriracha as I am, so I did the honorable thing to do, and wolfed them down by myself for lunch. No, not in a single day. I am crazy for Sriracha but portion control comes first…

HONEY GLAZED SRIRACHA MEATBALLS
(adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny)

for the meatballs:
2 lb. ground chicken (or turkey)
1/4 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
a squirt of lemon juice

for the sauce:
¼ cup Sriracha
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
minced chives for decoration (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together ground chicken, almond flour, egg, salt and pepper until well combined. Shape mixture into  balls and place spaced apart on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray or covered with parchment paper.

Bake meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then toss with the meatballs.

Sprinkle with minced chives, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These turned out hot enough for me, but you can always add some cayenne pepper or increase the amount of Sriracha if feeling particularly brave.  I love adding a dollop of yogurt (seasoned with salt and za’tar) to these meatballs, because I find the contrast of peppery heat with cold, creamy yogurt very pleasing. The best advice to making good meatballs is to avoid handling the mixture too much, the looser the better. And don’t cook them to death. Dried meatballs are simply no bueno.  I never fry them anymore, prefer to cook them in the oven, but for this recipe I made the sauce in a skillet and simply added the cooked meatballs to the sauce for a nice glaze. Winner, my friends, winner!

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CHICKEN MARSALA MEATBALLS WITH MUSHROOM SAUCE

I rarely buy ground chicken, opting for ground turkey instead, but this time I followed the recipe exactly as designed by Giada in a recent show on FoodTV.  The chicken meatballs can be  prepared many hours in advance and kept in the fridge, uncooked. Or you can cook them, make the sauce, and re-heat everything together when you want to serve  dinner.  The mushroom sauce is a perfect complement, all that’s needed is a starchy side to soak it all up.  On her show, she suggested egg noodles.  I went with a golden cauliflower puree and green beans. Now, on a tangent, can I share a little pet peeve of mine? I get a bit irritated when people use “compliment” when they actually mean “complement”. I know, English is not my first language, who am I to point the finger, when I make mistakes on a daily basis?  But still…  the compliment thing annoys me to no end.  A compliment is a flattering remark, a complement complements. The mushrooms are not having a conversation with the meatballs saying “wow, you look gorgeous today!”…  Ok, stepping off my soap box. Back to cooking. 😉

Pork Meatballs

CHICKEN MARSALA MEATBALLS IN MUSHROOM SAUCE
(slightly modified from Giada de Laurentiis)

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons almond milk, room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Marsala wine
1 pound ground white meat chicken
1/4 cup grated pecorino, plus extra for serving
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1 teaspoon cepes powder (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
1 cup chicken broth (slightly more if sauce seems too thick)
 .

In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, almond milk and 1 tablespoon Marsala. Leave it soaking for 5 minutes.  Add the chicken, pecorino, egg, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Gently mix together the ingredients until just combined. Form the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place on an oiled baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the meatballs are beginning to brown and are just barely cooked through. Flip them around and broil the other side for a few more minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
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In a straight-sided skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms are brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, the cepes powder, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the flour and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the 1/3 cup Marsala and stir until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the chicken broth and simmer for a few minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes to let the flavors blend, under very low heat.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  We both loved this meal!  One of the important tips for success is handling the meatballs as softly as possible. Wet your hands if you prefer, form the balls and do not pack them tightly, or you might compromise the texture.  I used regular mushrooms, but cremini or a mixture or wild mushrooms could be great.  Of course, having that special cepes powder to splurge only added a touch of sophistication to the meal.  A little bit goes a long way, the smell is terrific!  I know that it is a very unique ingredient I was lucky to receive as a gift, but even without it this will be a delicious meal.

served

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the yellow color of the golden cauliflower was preserved during cooking and mashing.  Shockingly yellow, like a burst of sun in the middle of the plate…

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