Until I married into the Young family, for me, meatballs were always more of a secondary food item buried somewhere on an Italian restaurant menu. I definitely never made them at home, and I never thought of them as anything special.
After eating many wonderful meals with Joey?s family, I can say with absolute certainty that I was not being fair to meatballs; Joey?s mom can make some amazing ones, and while I know I?ll never top her secret recipe, I?ve gotten braver about trying to make meatballs in my own kitchen.
This week, I tried a recipe for some that sounded a bit off the wall, but I was eager to see if I could conquer them: chicken parmesan meatballs.
These, while having a decidedly Italian flavor, are not like any other meatballs I?ve eaten, but they were delicious.
I got the recipe from a blog called ?Dinner A Love Story,? and you can see it at http://www.dinneralovestory.com/chicken-parm-meatballs/. I changed several parts of the original recipe to give these a bit more flavor, and I substituted ground chicken for ground turkey, since I already had some waiting for me in my freezer.
Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1/2 cup Panko or breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, whisked
zest of half a lemon or 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 jar marinara sauce
2 to 6 slices mozzarella or provolone cheese
Enough cooked spaghetti to feed your crowd
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, Panko, parsley, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, garlic, egg and lemon. Mix it together thoroughly with your hands.
Roll the mixture into meatballs between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball (be as consistent as possible with size so they all cook at the same rate).
Place the meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet. (I didn?t line mine. I just sprayed it with cooking spray, and it worked just as well).
Mix a spoonful of the marinara sauce with the olive oil, and brush the tops of the meatballs with the mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure you?ve reached the proper internal temperature if you?re not sure they?re cooked all the way through.
Top each meatball with a little sauce and a quarter slice of cheese and slide the pan back into the oven under the broiler for three to five minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
Heat the remaining marinara sauce in a pan.
Serve the finished meatballs over the cooked spaghetti with the remaining sauce.
These were delicious, and they reheated wonderfully, too. I suspect you could bake these and just skip the last step of melting the cheese over the top and freeze these for a future meal. It would make for a quick dinner (as long as you?re not like me and you actually remember to defrost things in the morning).
If you?ve never really tried making meatballs, give these a shot. They?re easy to make, and they may give you a new appreciation for meatballs, too.
When not helping husband Joey with newspaper work, Lindsey teaches speech, debate and forensics at Haven High School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.