Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
Sundays go like this: I make my our family’s grocery list. I gather my reusable grocery bags, tell my husband I am going to the grocery store, and as I basically step out the door, he panics as if I hadn’t prepared meals or won’t buy snacks or something and immediately adds a plethora of suggestions and meal ideas to the list. This whole experience is much more favorable than having him actually accompany me to the grocery store, so I generally put up with it.
The week these chicken Parmesan meatballs were on my menu he promptly suggested 3 meals when I announced I was heading out to go grocery shopping. Oddly, this week he spat out: Pork Tenderloin! (I already had it on my list), big salads! (ditto), and MEATBALLS (also on the menu plan). It was some crazy synchronicity.
What I didn’t tell him was the meatballs I had planned were chicken meatballs – something he’d surely have something to say about (meatballs should be beef!). Turns out he noticed the ground chicken before I was able to serve him the dinner but he went into it with an open mind and adored this meal, as did I. He commented specifically on the deliciousness of the sauce, which I can only attribute to the San Marzano tomatoes I picked up, so I suggest you do the same. The recipe made a bunch and we had meatball grinders, pasta with meatballs, and plenty of leftovers.
For the tomato sauce
- 1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, liquid reserved
- 1 tbsp. butter
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 1½ tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup half-and-half
For the meatballs:
- ½ cup dried panko bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup grated onion
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1½ lbs. ground chicken
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 oz. shredded mozzarella
- 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
- 2-3 tbsp. minced fresh basil (optional)
- To make the sauce, add the tomatoes to a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth, adding a bit of the reserved liquid if necessary to smooth the mixture out and reach the consistency you desire.
- Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and cook about 3 minutea, until it begins to soften and golden. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and red pepper flakes and mix just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the pureed tomato mixture, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook about 5-8 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream. Set aside.
- To make the meatballs, combine the panko bread crumbs, 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 with a wooden spoon until evenly combined. Form the mixture into meatballs about 1½-inch in diameter.
- Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the pan in a single layer (two batches may be necessary if you don’t have enough surface area.) Let cook, turning occasionally, until all sides are browned. Meatballs will not be cooked through.
- Once all of the meatballs are browned, place them in the pan with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella and additional Parmesan over the top. Bake until the cheese is fully melted and bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with the fresh basil. Serve warm.