i love meatballs more than you can probably imagine. beef meatballs, pork meatballs, vegetarian ‘meat’balls during my meat-free years – i’ve devoured + adored them all. the one thing i don’t love? when i make them, i do so in huge quantities so we can have some that night, leftovers for later, + extras to share. sauteeing 4 dozen meatballs in 95 degree weather is not so fun.
with most meatballs, i prefer a pan-sauteed version to a baked one, since they get that tasty caramelization on the outside. however, when i ran across this recipe for baked chicken meatballs with a caramelized tomato glaze, i thought, hmm, interesting idea. i had never tried a chicken meatball, but i was ready to try.
the result was astoundingly delicious. seriously. i couldn’t believe how wonderful these turned out. the pancetta adds a lovely salty bite while the tomato glaze is simply amazing. these are the most tender, light meatballs i’ve ever eaten. they work perfectly with pasta, as sliders, or on a toasted flatbread sandwich (pictured above). so, if you’re looking for a quick-baking, easy-to-prepare, lighter take on traditional meatballs? try these. i promise you will be impressed!
*note: the original recipe also called for a side of pepperonata, but another 35 minutes with a 400 degree oven blazing? no thanks! you can find that portion of the recipe at the gourmet link below.
baked chicken meatballs
3 slices italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
1/3 cup milk
3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped
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
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
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 pancetta, onion, + garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt + pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. cool slightly.
squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, + parsley. form 12 meatballs + arrange in a 4-sided sheet pan or baking/roasting dish.
stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste + oil + brush over meatballs, then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, about 20 minutes.print this recipe