A very kid friendly meal, incorporating many of their favorite flavors in to one dish; chicken, spaghetti sauce (sort of), and cheese! It is hard to explain how good these are, and exactly what they taste like. They are meatballs, but don’ taste like beef, or chicken for that matter, they are just darn good! A definite must try. My wife and boys ate theirs with some penne pasta, but I just ate the meatballs so I could eat more of them, without filling up on pasta! Priorities, right!?!
And as always, pardon the poor quality photo! I am not a photographer by any means, and I think I had my fork halfway to the plate to dig in while I was taking these pictures, so you are lucky to at least get a couple!
So there is a slight chance I added a little more cheese than what is called for! Darn! One mistake worth making time and time again.
Baked Chicken Parmesan Meatballs in Tomato Cream Sauce
For the Sauce
1 (28oz) can whole tomatoes, liquid reserved
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
For the meatballs
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
I pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces shredded mozzarella
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons minced fresh basil (optional)
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 sauté 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, 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.
To make the meatballs, combine the panko, 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.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Heat the olive 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.
Once all of the meatballs are browned, place them in the pan with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella 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.