The second I saw this recipe on an episode of ‘Everyday Italian’, I went straight to my computer and printed it. And I’m very glad I did.
The most important part of this dish is the delicious homemade chicken meatballs. They have so much flavor and they can be made in advance and warmed up during the main cooking time. I’m even tempted to make them a bit bigger and have them with spaghetti and sauce. I also wonder if they freeze well, I haven’t tested it, but I don’t see why not.
I just wanted to show a few of the ingredients I used for this recipe. All of these ingredients where bought at Whole Foods Market. I forgot to save the mozzarella package, but it is Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella.
Even though this recipe might seem difficult, it is actually quite easy. It does take a little extra time to make, so it’s a good weekend meal. If you wanted to make the meatballs ahead of time, it would make it easier to make during the week.
Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs:
This is based off this recipe, from Everyday Italian
Serves: 4 to 6; Active time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
- 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon of milk *whatever kind you have, I used skim
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan *you can use Romano if you prefer
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1/4 cup olive oil, for cooking the meatballs
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta
- 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8oz of mozzarella, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil, for topping
1. Before starting to cook anything, make sure everything that needs to be chopped up, is prepared. Half the tomatoes, cut up the mozzarella and chop the basil. *I think getting everything ready before hand really helps during the cooking process.
2. In a large bowl, add breadcrumbs, 1 -2 teaspoons basil, eggs, milk, ketchup, 3/4 cup Parmesan, salt, and pepper and whisk until combined. Add ground chicken and gently mix until well combined.
3. Fill a large pot with water and let it slowly come to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, you can start cooking the meatballs. In a large non-stick skillet add 1/4 inch of olive oil. When the oil is warm, drop teaspoon sized meatballs into the oil. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. This should be done in batches considering how many meatballs this recipe makes. Also, the oil will need replenishing every few batches.
*I don’t actually roll the meatballs like the original recipe says too. I did it the first time I made this and they didn’t end up round after cooking anyway. Also, have a bowl nearby to hold the completed batches of meatballs.
4. When the water is boiling (which might be while you’re still cooking the meatballs), salt the water and add the orecchiette. Follow the cooking instructions on the box, trying the pasta until it’s at a texture you enjoy. When the pasta is finished, drain and add to a large serving bowl.
5. After the meatballs are completed (this is where you would reheat them if you pre made them), add them all back into the pan along with the tomatoes and chicken broth. Gently stir and let simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Then pour over the pasta in the large serving bowl and add 1/2 cup of parmesan and basil. Mix until combined.
6. At this point you can add the mozzarella to the large bowl and mix, BUT it’s more than likely that it will melt into one big cheesy mess. I prefer, however, to add the mozzarella to the individual bowls before eating. Enjoy!
If you make this recipe, let me know how you liked it! Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Have a nice day!