Chicken meatballs are a fun way to get the family eating something that’s pretty good for them. Subs or tiny little slider buns and melty cheese are a perfect way to get those meatballs in your mouth.
These are the sleeper hit at The Meatball Shop and the star in our Chicken Parm Slider. Guests are always surprised by the moistness and rich taste of them. The secret is ground thigh meat. Chicken thighs are packed with flavor and are a better choice than the usual dry breast meat. You can substitute ground turkey if you can’t find ground chicken.–Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow
HOW SHOULD I SERVE CHICKEN MEATBALLS?
Subtly but surely flavored, these chicken meatballs need little, if anything, in terms of embellishment. Of course, if you want to serve them as sliders you’ll need, at minimum, a bun. Maybe a touch of simple marinara. Cheese, if you please. But back to that bun. It’s the foundation of the sandwich, so it needs to be both pillowy yet sturdy, effusively flavorful on its own without overwhelming the meatball, and able to be made into wee buns that are just dainty enough for these wee sliders. We’ve got just the beautiful burger bun for you.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds ground chicken preferably thigh meat
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel preferably freshly ground from fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Drizzle the olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and use your hands to evenly coat the entire surface.
- Combine the chicken, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, wine, salt, fennel, and pepper in a large bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. The mixture may seem quite moist; this is okay.
- Roll the mixture into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (roughly golf ball size), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even vertical and horizontal rows to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.
- Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F (74°C). Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I was supposed to make turkey meatballs for a client, but once I came upon this recipe, I opted for chicken meatballs instead. I wasn't disappointed, as they came out moist and delicious. The mixture was rather soggy but firmed up nicely in the oven. I paired these meatballs with a simple tomato sauce over pasta for a quick yet hearty winter meal.
These meatballs were tasty and pretty quick and easy to make. Grinding fennel seeds was probably the most time consuming part of the prep and that was only because I had to locate my grinder.
I made these with ground turkey (a mix of light and dark meat; I think I used 3/4 dark and 1/4 white meat), as I was unable to find ground dark-meat chicken in any of the three places I tried. Only one of them had ground chicken and it was breast meat. My experience with ground chicken-breast meat is that it’s way too lean, lacks flavor, and sticks to the pan, so I opted for turkey and it worked well. The meatballs had a more robust flavor than I think they would’ve had with chicken.
It took about 30 minutes to get these cooked through. They were good on a hot meatball sub sandwich with mozzarella and some tomato sauce. I cut sections from a baguette rather than going the slider route. Packing them close together in the pan yielded nice round meatballs, but they eventually fused together, which I discovered after dinner when I went to transfer the leftovers into a container to refrigerate. I ended up breaking some trying to get them apart.
Originally published January 28, 2013