If you’ve overdone the poultry this Thanksgiving, here’s a great recipe for another time – otherwise try these wonderful spicy chicken meatballs; a great alternative for non-beef eaters.
They came about after I’d been marinating some chicken breasts in lemon zest, garlic and rosemary to stick on the grill. (Perfect Grilled Chicken is one of my favorites when confronted with skinless chicken bits and no time to prepare anything too fancy).
But by the time they were ready to cook I wasn’t in the mood for grilling, so I ground them up with some prosciutto and dried chili flakes, then added beaten egg and breadcrumbs to make small meatballs.
The result was devilishly good, especially with an arrabiatta pasta sauce (tomato sauce with garlic and chili) over some pasta – but they’ll work with any tomato-based sauce.
They’d also be wonderful on top of soft polenta if you aren’t in the mood for pasta – and if you’re really watching your weight, pile them onto some oven-baked spaghetti squash that you scooped out of the skin and tossed in a little butter, black pepper, sea salt and a good measure of finely grated Parmigiano Reggianno.
Another thought; you could also serve them as a warm hors d’oeurve with cocktail sticks to dunk in your favorite dipping sauce.
Be careful not to overcook them as they could become a bit dry and you’ll need a food processor.
For the chicken marinade:
2 peeled garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 level teaspoon of coarse sea salt
The finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary
Half a bay leaf
A good grind of black pepper
For the meatballs:
1 lb (455g) of skinless, boneless chicken breast or thigh meat (or both), roughly chopped
4 slices of prosciutto, chopped
1/3 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
1 – 2 teaspoons of dried chili flakes, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
Olive oil for cooking
A good tomato based pasta sauce to serve
Preferably using a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic sea salt into the sea salt until you have a creamy paste, then whisk in the remaining marinade ingredients. Add to the chicken and marinade for a min of 2 hrs or overnight (I use a sealed ziplok plastic bag).
Discard the bay leaf then put the chicken and its marinade in a food processor along with the chopped prosciutto. Pulse until coarsely chopped, transfer to a bowl and add the egg, chili and breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly and with wet hands, form into approximately 24 balls (about 1 tablespoon each). Cover and chill in the fridge for about an hour.
Heat the olive oil in a wide sauté pan and in batches, brown the meatballs all over (about 10 mins – don’t overcook them), then transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain slightly.
Serve immediately with your favorite pasta sauce.