I mention this a lot, but I'm really grateful for the close friends I've made through blogging, most of whom I've bonded with over our common love of (ok, obsession with..) making and eating food.
Three of my best e-buddies and I have recently formed a little secret society-- the Cross-Country Cooking Parade, or CCCP (ha!), and cooking/baking along with my friends has brought me so much joy already. These meatballs were one of the first things we made together.
I've had them on my radar, like most of the recipes from Smitten Kitchen, since Deb posted them last year, and they were an easy meal to throw together on a weeknight. One recommendation: if you make these, make sure that the bread is torn into teeny, tiny pieces before you soak it. I didn't tear mine small enough, so the otherwise delicious meatballs were filled with relatively large chunks of moist bread, which was not ideal.
Also, I omitted the pancetta since we don't eat pork, but next time I'll try crumbling some extra-crisp turkey bacon into the mix; I think that would add excellent flavor.
Baked Chicken Meatballs
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet
Serves 4, or more as appetizers or sliders
3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
1/3 cup milk
3 ounces sliced pancetta or Canadian bacon, 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
1. Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack the upper thirds. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.
2. Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.
3. 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, and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in 4-sided sheet pan.
4. Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs (the paste/oil does not mix in any cohesive manner, but just smoosh it on and run with it) , then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.