Chicken Parm Meatballs

Do you guys know Zach and Clay of The Bitten Word? I just love the concept behind their blog. Like me, they subscribe to a ton of food magazines, and rather than allow them to just stack up around the house, they resolved to actually start cooking from them and share the results – good or bad – on their site. Since I began reading their blog a few years ago, they’ve even inspired me to turn to my magazines more often for recipe ideas!

A few weeks ago, they introduced the Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Challenge, and I immediately jumped on board. The idea was simple, but sorta genius – enlist readers to help them cook every recipe from one issue of a food magazine this fall. So many people wanted in on the challenge they wound up modifying the original plan. Instead of one magazine, a huge group of us are now working together to cook every single recipe from six magazines this fall!

Chicken Parm Meatballs

We were divided into teams, each team being assigned one magazine and each team member responsible for one recipe from that issue. I lucked out and wound up on Team Everyday Food, a magazine I have subscribed to for quite a while and always enjoy. And when I saw my recipe, I could not have been more excited! These chicken parm meatballs sounded like the best kind of comfort food, and with the exception of the ground chicken, I already had everything on hand that I needed to make them.

Think of this recipe as a modern spin on an old classic – chicken parm reinvented in meatball form, and who doesn’t love meatballs? Despite the difference in appearance, you won’t believe how much this dish tastes just like the original – the textures and flavors are all there! These ground chicken meatballs are stuffed with big chunks of mozzarella then rolled in breadcrumbs and shallow fried until golden and crispy before finally being finished in the oven. When you cut into one, the cheesy mozzarella goodness just oozes out. It’s a glorious sight :) These are larger than your average meatballs – only 4 of them per pound of meat, so one per person is plenty. Sitting atop a pile of spaghetti and homemade marinara sauce, it was one of the best Sunday dinners we’ve had in a while!

Starting this Monday, October 15, and continuing throughout the week, Zach and Clay will be rounding up all of the recipes prepared as part of the Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Challenge so be sure to stop by The Bitten Word and check it out :) I’ll update this post with the links when they become available.

Cheesy Chicken Parm Meatballs
barely adapted from Everyday Food, October 2012

{Note: I was seriously concerned about containing the mozzarella within the meatballs throughout the cooking process, but not a single one of my meatballs leaked. As long as you seal the ground chicken mixture around the cheese and you should be good to go!}

3/4 lb spaghetti
1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs, divided
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 lb ground chicken
2 cups vegetable oil
3 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 16 pieces
3 cups marinara sauce (I used this one)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs, the milk, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Add the ground chicken, and use your hands to gently mix just until evenly distributed.

Add the oil to a large straight-sided skillet (I used cast iron), and set over medium heat. Heat the oil to 350 F on a candy thermometer.

While the oil is heating, add the remaining 1 cup of breadcrumbs to a shallow dish (a pie plate works well). Separate the ground chicken mixture into 4 even portions. Working with one portion at a time, press it into a disk. Add 4 pieces of the mozzarella to the center of the disk, then shape into a ball around the cheese. Roll the meatball in the breadcrumbs, then repeat with the remaining portions of ground chicken.

Fry the meatballs in the hot oil until golden brown and crisp on all sides (you’ll have to flip them), about 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and allow the excess oil to drain for 1 minute. Remove and discard the paper towels, then bake the meatballs on the baking sheet until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Divide the pasta among four bowls, then top with marinara and one meatball. Garnish with the parsley.

Serves 4