Nonna Lina started making her meatballs with chicken instead of the usual beef last year, looking for a lower fat alternative.
The meatballs are moist, tender and absolutely delicious cooked as she usually makes her meatballs in tomato sauce.
The trick to making these tender, is to actually use chicken breasts she finely chops herself rather than using ground chicken or turkey
which makes them too dense. The sauce is much healthier flavored with chicken rather than the traditional beef and pork, and
can be used to top any pasta, gnocchi, polenta, or in lasagna as usual. Nonna likes to serve her meatballs separately from the
pasta as a second course, and prefers some type of short pasta such as penne or rigatoni.
For The Sauce:
1 (28 oz) Can Imported Tomatoes (Chopped or Strained)
1 (6 oz) Can Tomato Paste
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Onions
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley
2 - 3 Cups Water
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Or Pecorino Cheese
For The Meatballs:
3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Slices Italian Bread Soaked In Milk
2 Teaspoons Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt And Pepper
1 Pound Dried Pasta Of Choice
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onions until soft. Add the garlic, and cook until it
is fragrant. Add the wine and cook until it has almost evaporated. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 cups of water, and seasonings.
Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
Wrap the chicken breasts in plastic wrap to protect them, and place them in the freezer until they are slightly firm to the touch, but
not frozen. Remove from the freezer, and using a sharp knife, cut the chicken into tiny pieces, smaller than little peas.
In a bowl, place the chicken, egg, cheese, and seasonings. Squeeze the milk from the bread slices, and crumble this into the
chicken mixture. Mix well with your hands until the bread is blended into the chicken well. The mixture will be quite moist
at this time.
Using wet hands, form the chicken into golf ball sized meatballs, and carefully drop them into the simmering sauce. Use
up all of the chicken mixture in this fashion. Leave the pot partially covered, and simmer for 20 minutes. Carefully stir the
mixture, and then cook another 40 minutes. Serve over your pasta of choice cooked al dente with the meatballs served on the side.
Nonna Lina ~ 2003