Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating
I have to admit. I think my meatball recipe is pretty much the best. Light, fluffy and delish. Always a hit at family gatherings or just for the two of us.
So why mess with something so perfect? Well, why not. Life is too short not to experiment with your tried and true recipes. Right?
Let me tell you what I usually do. I make my meatballs from ground chicken, a load of fresh challah crumbs (the secret to all things fluffier than a kitten) and plenty of eggs. My standard rule of thumb is the equation of one egg to one package (usually a pound) of ground chicken. I season the mixture with a bunch of stuff then heat up my sauce on the stove in a large pot, roll em’ and drop in the meatballs. Then I simmer the hell outta of them for 2 hours. Low and slow is how we go.
When I made THESE meatballs, I decided that I would try something a bit different. First of all, I rolled, then dredged them in “00” flour (a very light version of flour that you can use to make pasta). Then I heated a heavy, oven proof skillet with olive oil and dropped in a few meatballs just to brown them on all sides. You wanna know why I did this step? Because this ensured that the meat was nicely browned on all sides. It’s a bit of a pain to do but honestly, there’s nothing better than these two words – BROWN & CRUNCHY. I’m just imagining biting into one of these right now, it’s very late at night and thanks, now I’m hungry.
Then guess what I did? Ready?
I placed my tomato sauce directly into the skillet with the meatballs and transferred them to the oven to bake. I have really never baked my meatballs so I was a bit skeptical about how they would turn out. There’s nothing uglier than a dry meatball.
Okay. Let me just say this. THEY WERE STELLAR. Just as light, fluffy and moist without the two hours of low and slow on the stove.
Did I mention what I added into the meatballs? F.G.P.C. (Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese) Wow. Just wow. What a great way to include a little bit of Italy into a recipe. And yes, I always ask Steve if I can use his cheese. What? It’s HIS CHEESE. Let me explain.
Steve has a bunch of customers who have been around since the 18th century. They are all still alive (barely). When he goes to their home to do a service call, nine times out of ten he leaves with a care package of something. This time it was a half a wheel of parmesan cheese. I kid you not. That cheese has been sitting in the fridge for months (maybe years) and nothing happens to it. In fact, it gets better with time. Like a fine wine.
If you are going to steal a piece of “his cheese”, you have to sign it out like a library book.
Steve’s rules. (Which I rarely abide by, but this time something told me to ask first because I’m positive he weighs his cheese before he goes to bed).
This meatball recipe has now become one of my favourite weeknight meals to serve over just about anything. To keep it low calorie, I went for spiralled and steamed zucchini noodles but the meatballs were the star of this show, that’s for dang sure.
CHICKEN PARMESAN MEATBALLS
- 2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 slices challah bread, processed into crumbs
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup "00" flour for dredging
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 jar store bought marinara sauce
- 1 8 oz. tin of tomato sauce
- 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
- handful of fresh baby spinach and basil leaves, torn
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, parmesan, both breadcrumbs, eggs, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, parsley and cayenne pepper. Carefully combine everything with your hands until the ingredients are evenly mixed.
- Form the ground chicken mixture into small meatballs (about the size of a golf ball)
- Dredge each meatball in the flour to lightly tap off any excess flour.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add a few of the meatballs and sauté for a 3-4 minutes. Don't overcrowd the pan. Turn the meatballs to brown them on all sides. NOTE - You are going to have a lot of meatballs so grab another skillet.
- Once the meatballs are browned, remove them from the oil and repeat the process with the remaining meatballs.
- Set all the browned meatballs aside. Add the marinara sauce, tomato sauce and brown sugar to the skillet. Heat the sauce until the brown sugar melts. Now divide the sauce into the two skillets. then place the browned meatballs on top of the sauce, dividing them into the two skillets.
- Transfer the skillets into the oven and let the meatballs continue to bake for 30 minutes until cooked through.
- Remove the skillets from the oven and garnish with baby spinach and basil leaves.Serve immediately.