Baked Chicken Meatballs
By Kath Dedon
These Baked Chicken Meatballs have given me a new respect for ground chicken. They are tender and so flavorful! What’s the secret? I believe it’s the pancetta that is sautéed and added to the meatballs. And brushing the meatballs with a blend of tomato paste and olive oil before baking is genius! Besides adding some flavor, it makes them much more visually appealing than they would be with their naturally pale color.
Laura had recommended the recipe to me, and it has been on my list to try for quite a while now. It’s from Deb’s Smitten Kitchen, and she credits Gourmet for the recipe. I’m glad I finally tried it!
I made 12 meatballs, but as Deb suggests, you could also make mini meatballs for appetizers. They would be great for the upcoming holidays!
I’m lucky to be able to get excellent pancetta from Salumi at Metropolitan Market; if you can’t find pancetta, Deb suggests Canadian bacon. I think a fatty prosciutto might be a better choice. Or you could use bacon, if you can’t find prosciutto. Bacon, though, will add a smoky flavor that you won’t get with pancetta.
All in all, I would say that this recipe for Baked Chicken Meatballs is a great one to add to your repertoire! (Thanks, Laura!)
Baked Chicken Meatballs
(Adapted from a recipe on smittenkitchen.com, originally from Gourmet)
Serves 4 (or more as appetizers)
3 slices white bread, torn into small bits (1 cup) (I used French bread.)
1/3 cup milk
3 ounces sliced pancetta, finally chopped
½ teaspoon salt (omit if using bacon)
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 large egg
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400˚.
2. Pour the milk over the bread in a small bowl, and set aside.
3. Cook the pancetta over medium heat in a large skillet.
Salumi’s excellent pancetta
4. After the pancetta has rendered some fat in the pan, add the salt, pepper, onion and garlic.
5. Continue cooking the pancetta, onion, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. This takes about 5 or 6 minutes.
6. Beat the egg in a large bowl.
7. Squeeze out any excess milk in the bread and discard. (Mine did not have any excess milk.)
8. Add the chicken, soaked bread, pancetta and onion mixture, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, and parsley to the egg in the bowl. Mix together just until it is well blended.
9. Make 12 meatballs and place them on a 4-sided baking sheet (or in a 9×13-inch baking pan). (As you can see in the photo, I used parchment paper, but I don’t think that was necessary.)
10. Mix the remaining tablespoon of tomato paste and the tablespoon of olive oil together. Brush the meatballs with the mixture.
11. Bake for 25 minutes, or until done. (It will take less time for mini meatballs.)