So, meatballs. There is really no known segue for them, and I have tried to think of one, believe me. My best attempts were a clever introduction involving recollections of Lady and the Tramp, or somehow working with cloudy with a chance of. Having failed with the segue business and with no other graceful way to launch into this:
Well, chicken meatballs, if that makes it any more interesting.
There’s nothing terribly romantic about ground meat. We still eat it, quite a bit: burgers, meatloaf, pate, yet meatballs often come up last in that race. Or at least are never talked about in any real, laudatory way. They are the creamed spinach of ground meats: traditional, old even, liked by everyone - but no one wants to really admit it. They’re silent members of the recipe box, tucked away as some kind of 1950s peasant food.
But I will say, we all can’t roast whole chickens every night, or stir risottos, and if you’ve got a box of pasta and the ingredients lying around (which you probably do), this won’t even seem like a second-best dinner once you’re finished.
I left out the pancetta in this recipe, simply because I didn’t have it. Do not do as I did. These were good, but would infinitely benefit from some salty fat, as most things do. We ate these with just some roasted vegetables and a salad, but they would be great with pasta; you could do as lady and the tramp do, with a rogue version of spaghetti and meatballs.
(Adapted from Gourmet)
The original recipe called for three ounces of pancetta, chopped, which you render with the onion and garlic in the first step. I would strongly advise (nudge, urge) you to do that.
I cup Italian bread, torn into small bits
1/3 cup milk
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large egg
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.
Cook onion, and garlic in one tablespoon of oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl and combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, onion mixture and bread. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in another 4-sided sheet pan.
Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.