Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs

One of the food magazines that I pick up regularly is called COOK.  It has a lot of recipes with ingredients that I usually have on hand or are easy to come by at the grocery.  And the magazine has beautiful food pictures!!  The January issue has a great recipe for meatballs made with ground chicken and ricotta cheese.  With a little planning it’s a meal you can have on the table in 45 minutes, and that included me grinding my chicken breasts in an old fashioned meat grinder!  A food processor would work.  Or purchasing ground chicken (or turkey) at the grocery would be even easier.  The meatballs look a little different than what we’re accoustomed to…my husband saw them in the sauce and said “dumplings??”.  But they’re light, moist,  and have a great flavor.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground chicken

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1/2 cup panko

1 large egg yolk

3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped and divided

1/4 cup fresh basil sliced thin and divided

2 tsp kosher salt

4 T olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

28 oz of crushed tomatoes

fresh grated asiago and additional basil for serving

First things first.  If you didn’t purchase ground chicken you’ll need to do that.  Grind your chicken.  With the meat slightly frozen, cube it and grind.  I used chicken breast but I don’t see why you couldn’t use boneless leg or thigh meat.

Preheat your oven to 400.

In a medium bowl stir together chicken, ricotta, panko, egg yolk, half the garlic, half the basil, and 1 tsp salt.  Mix until well combined.

Use a 1/4 cup spring-loading scoop (I call it a cookie scoop) or a teaspoon and shape into 16 meatballs.  Place in a foil lined pan.  Drizzle with 2 T of olive oil.  Bake for 12 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking get your sauce started.  In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, add remaining 2 T of olive oil and remaining garlic.  Cook for 1 minute and add the wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by half, 3-5 minutes.   Add the tomatoes, remaining basil and 1 tsp salt.  Bring to a simmer.

Once the meatballs are done add them to the sauce including any pan juices.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with fresh grated asiago and garnish with additional basil if desired.  I served mine over a simple, creamy polenta.  It would also be good with angel hair or fettuccine noodles or served with spaghetti squash.

NOTE:  I made only slight modifications to the recipe in COOK.  I used fresh basil instead of fresh rosemary.  One, I didn’t have any fresh rosemary and two, basil just sounded better to me in this recipe.  I also used shredded asiago for serving rather than Parmesan.  I have a slight preference for asiago but either would be good.

My friend Jane made this recipe before I did and she gave it high marks so I was confident I would like it.  However, when you’re mixing the meat and cheese you may be a little skeptical about how its all going to come together.  But it does!

I have not made this with ground turkey but I cant imagine that it wouldn’t work.  To me, when you’re cooking, a recipe is a guideline and you’ll like it best when you take your personal tastes and preferences into account.