Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs

I've really fallen in love with orecchiette pasta. I think it's because the pasta has more body and texture to it, and it's chewy yet firm. The only problem is that it's quite hard to find this pasta here in San Diego. On a recent trip to Mona Lisa deli , though, I saw they started selling fresh orecchiette pasta and I just had to buy it.

This recipe is from Giada, but as always I changed it up a bit. I actually read the comments from other users who made this recipe and mostly all said meatball mixture was too sticky and wet, so I modified the recipe by omitting the milk and ketchup and adding just a tablespoon of marinara instead. Additionally I increased the breadcrumbs just a bit. My husband and brother-in-law (and yes, he's living here with us for a bit) loved it! They both especially enjoyed the chicken meatballs because they sure were flavorful.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 8 ounce package of fresh orecchiette pasta, if available. (If you're unable to find orecchiette, you can use mini shells).
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano or parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, hot
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces bocconcini mozzarella, halved
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, dried parsley, egg, 1 tablespoon marinara sauce, Romano cheese, mozzarella cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the chicken and gently stir to combine. (Use your hands, if you have to).

Using a melon baller (or a teaspoon measure), form the chicken mixture into 3/4-inch pieces. With damp hands, roll the chicken pieces into mini meatballs. (I don't have a melon baller, so I just used my hands to form the meatballs).

In a large (14-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer. Remove meatballs from pan and set aside. To the pan add the tomatoes and sear for one minute. Next add the hot chicken stock and bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Add remaining marinara sauce, dried basil and pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Now add back the meatballs to the sauce and keep simmering until meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add a little olive oil and toss to lightly coat orecchiette. If pasta seems to stick, add a little pasta water to loosen. Add the meatball mixture, mozzarella cheese and gently toss to combine. Garnish with the chopped basil.

1 comment:

Gascon Malbec Ambassador said...

I like Giada's recipes a lot but, like you, I also find myself tweaking them up a bit. I like the heartiness of this -- I've been looking for recipes to pair with malbecs aside from chocolate-heavy desserts and saffron halibuts. Sounds like the fresh meatiness of this would work well with a deeply complex red wine!