Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
Chicken Parm is reimagined with these garlic and herb oil-fried meatballs baked in tomato sauce and topped with gooey mozzarella cheese.In my line of work, personal cuisine can be born on the job. When I couldn't decide between chicken parmesan and meatballs, my brain said, "Chicken Parmesan Meatballs." You're welcome. This recipe first appeared in EveryDayCook.
ACTIVE TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 40 minutes
Yield: 18 to 20 meatballs
For the Red Sauce
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, drained with the liquid reserved
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 (2-inch) Parmesan rind
For the Meatballs
- 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, broken into 1-inch chunks (3/4 cup)
- 3 ounces stale Italian bread, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon loosely packed fresh oregano leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti
- 1 batch Red Sauce (from above)
- 3/4 cup reserved drained liquid from canned tomatoes
- 2 ounces grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese
- 2 ounces grated fontina cheese
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the anchovies and the red pepper flakes and cook, breaking up the anchovies with the back of a wooden spoon, until the anchovies dissolve into the oil, about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and the salt. Break up the tomatoes with the back of the spoon, then submerge the Parmesan rind in the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is almost dry, about 1 hour.
Discard the Parmesan rind or feed it to the dog. Use the sauce immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the middle position. Place the chicken in a bowl and chill in the freezer about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the Parmesan in the food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, about 15 one-second pulses. Add the bread pieces and pulse until the mixture forms fine breadcrumbs, 15 to 20 one-second pulses. Remove 3/4 cup (65 grams) of the breadcrumb mixture, transfer to a pie plate or shallow bowl, and reserve for later. Add the parsley, basil, oregano, black pepper, lemon zest, and nutmeg to the food processor bowl and pulse until finely chopped, 8 to 10 one-second pulses. Transfer the herbed breadcrumb mixture to a large bowl.
Remove the chicken from the freezer and pulse in the food processor until it resembles a coarse, medium grind, 8 to 10 one-second pulses. Transfer to the bowl with the herbed breadcrumbs, along with the garlic powder and salt. Using your hands, combine until everything is well incorporated, trying not to overwork the meat.
Divide the meatball mixture into 18 to 20 meatballs, each weighing about 1 ounce (28 grams), and roll them in the reserved plain breadcrumb mixture. Place on a half sheet pan.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in an oven-safe, 11-inch, straight-sided sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, place half of the meatballs in the skillet and cook until well browned on two sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Return to the half sheet pan and repeat with the second half of the meatballs, adding 1 more tablespoon of oil if needed. Remove the pan from the heat to cool for 1 minute.
Add the wine to the now-empty pan. Return to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the wine is reduced by about half, about 2 minutes. Add the Red Sauce and reserved tomato liquid and stir well to combine. Remove from the heat. Return all of the meatballs to the pan and gently stir the meatballs to cover with sauce. Combine the grated mozzarella and fontina in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the meatballs.
Bake until the meatballs are cooked through and the cheese is melted and bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving over cooked pasta, on top of crispy bread, or inside a hoagie roll.