Chicken Parm. It sits atop the "favorite food" list for many Americans. To be honest, it ranks pretty high up on Tall One's list, and Small One loves its vegetarian sister, Eggplant Parm. This is such a favorite though, that everyone already has a recipe they love! Or a grandma who makes it. Or a favorite restaurant that serves it. For example, there is a pizza place (OIP for all you Central Pennsylvanians) in the town where we went to college, that makes the BEST Chicken/Eggplant Parm Sandwiches.
So when we started thinking Chicken Parm this past weekend, we knew we needed to do something a little different. How do you take such a classic food and make it a little different, but still equally as delicious? Then it hit us... CHICKEN PARM MEATBALLS! As a little disclaimer, The Spatularettes tried this with both ground chicken and ground turkey. Both ended up with a tasty finished product, but we found the turkey to be a little easier to work with than the chicken. If you want to hold true to the name, then by all means use the chicken!
-1 lb ground chicken or turkey
-3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
-1/4 shredded Parmesan cheese
-2 tsp chopped fresh basil
-2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
-1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp pepper
-4 oz block of mozzarella cheese, cut into 12 small cubes.
-1 Tbs olive oil
-Marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet (preferably with edges) with parchment paper.
Dump first 9 ingredients (ground turkey through pepper) into a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon or your hands (we find the hands work better) to combine ingredients. Make sure the seasonings and bread crumbs are well distributed, but try not to over-work the meat. If the mixture seems to sticky, slowly add more breadcrumbs to make it more workable.
To form the balls, start by pressing a couple of Tbs of the meat mixture into the palm of your had to form a thin patty.
Place 1 cube of mozzarella cheese on the patty and gently fold the edges up around the cheese.
Once cheese is covered, roll the meatball in your hands to form its shape. Add a little bit more of the meat mixture if needed. It is important that the cheese is well sealed inside the meatball. This is the perfect amount of meat to make 12 balls.
Once meatballs are formed, place them on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush each one with a little bit of olive oil and bake for 25-30 minutes. This should leave your meatballs crispy on the outside, but still juicy and tender on the inside. Transfer meatball to a pot of warm marinara sauce, and allow to simmer until you are ready to serve. You can also transfer them directly from the oven to a serving dish and top each one with a little marinara and shredded Parmesan cheese if you are serving them as an appetizer.
Served as a sandwich, appetizer, or over pasta, Chicken Parm Meatballs are sure to please any hungry crowd!