Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs in Tomato Cream Sauce

Well last night was a major bummer, Ducks lost...but I still believe in them!  Today I am a little on edge because currently my father is in the hospital getting a full shoulder replacement surgery.  He got his right shoulder done last year and is now getting his left shoulder done, while it is a relatively safe surgery it is still a major surgery and things can go wrong hence my nervousness.  This evening after my workout I plan on going to see him, hope all goes smoothly!  So today I am distracting myself at work by feeding my addiction of listening to America's Test Kitchen podcast, which actually led me to a new book I want to read: The Telling Room: A tale of love, betrayal, revenge, and the world's greatest piece of cheese by Michael Paterniti.  It is a true story about a man creating the best piece of cheese in the world and the rise and fall of the company, it sounds like an extremely engaging story.  I adapted this recipe recently and can't wait to make it again, it is so cheesy and delicious!  I served these meatballs over a bed of green beans.  Enjoy!

Serves 6-8

The Ingredients

For the sauce:
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, liquid reserved

1 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp yogurt

¼ cup finely chopped onion

2 tbsp. pesto

1½ tbsp. tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

For the meatballs:
½ cup almond flour

1/3 cup grated onion

1 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried basil

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1½ lbs. ground chicken

2 tbsp. avocado oil

To finish:
4 oz. shredded mozzarella or sharp cheddar (we used cheddar)

2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan

2-3 tbsp. minced fresh basil (optional)

The Process

1.  To make the sauce, add the tomatoes to a blender or food processor.  Puree until smooth, adding a bit of the reserved liquid if necessary to smooth the mixture out.  Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet or saut√© pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook about 1 minute, until it begins to soften.  Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and red pepper flakes and mix just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato mixture, pesto, yogurt, and white balsamic vinegar lower the heat to a simmer, and cook about 5-8 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.  Set aside.

2.  To make the meatballs, combine the almond flour, grated onion, parsley, basil, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic and egg.  Stir together with a fork just until blended.  Mix in the ground chicken and knead together gently until evenly combined.  Form the mixture into meatballs about 1½-inch in diameter.

3.  Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the meatballs to the pan in a single layer (two batches may be necessary if you don’t have enough surface area.)  Let cook, turning occasionally, until all sides are browned.

4.  Once all of the meatballs are browned, place them in the pan with the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle the mozzarella (or cheddar) and additional Parmesan over the top.  Bake until the cheese is fully melted and bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and garnish with the fresh basil.  Serve warm.

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