Ground poultry has been extremely trendy in the past, oh, 10 years or so and I’ve been fascinated with how it could become so mainstream. Because for years now, I’ve found ground poultry extremely difficult to work with.
Unlike ground beef or pork, which has enough fat to create a rather homogeneous product, ground poultry can only be described as “goopy.” The mixture is so fluid that I can hardly use my hands to form balls or patties, and often end up sculpting a patty with my spatula in the pan. And forget about flipping the burgers – just cross your fingers and then try to fix it after the mixture flops into the other patties.
Yet I see copious amounts of recipes using ground poultry on the internet and offerings in restaurants. So what am I missing?! How am I so incredibly terrible at using this ingredient?
It seems that the missing secret was fat. I couldn’t imagine adding another liquidy ingredient like egg to my mixtures and never did – to my own detriment. With this delicious recipe for Chicken Meatballs, I finally caved and added the egg and the meatballs turned out perfectly. Perfectly! In fact, I had figured out how to take pictures with my phone by voice command and rigged it up to be able to take pictures of the goopy process of making meatballs without touching the phone, but there was really nothing to show. The mixture comes together like any other meatball.
This recipe has another fabulous ingredient that I never would have thought to use myself – rolled oats in place of traditional breadcrumbs. Add a little fiber, why doncha? The rolled oats didn’t add any distinguishable taste but helped to keep the meatballs together while adding wholesomeness. Count me in.
Adapted from the recipe by Janie Hoffman on Epicurious
1 pound ground chicken
1 large egg
1/3 cup coarsley grated or minced red onions
3/4 cup rolled or “old-fashioned” oats
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBL fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes – star ingredient
1. Preheat the oven to 475°F
2. Combine all ingredients. To save time, I put the oregano and red onion in a food processor and pulverized them.
3. Grease a jelly roll pan or other rimmed baking sheet (I used nonstick cooking spray, but your can use some oil on a paper towel, too.)
4. Roll the mixture into medium-sized balls, about three tablespoons, and place on baking sheet.
5. Bake in oven at for 12 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165°F
Pictures and anecdotes
I used shallots for this recipe, thinking I was clever. I am not clever. Shallots are great because they have a slightly less pungent flavor than onions. I learned to love shallots when I lived alone because often just one little shallot is plenty for a meal for one – then you can keep the others with their peel intact for another meal. However, the shallots were incredibly annoying to peel to have enough for this recipe – it took forever! However, once peeled, I put both the shallots and the oregano in a small food processor instead of mincing or grating. I saved a lot of time this way – will definitely be trying it again in other recipes!
Baking is easier because you can put the meatballs into the oven and walk away but the method does not give you an even brown – unless you want to turn the meatballs halfway through cooking time, which makes it slightly less easy. Still, I prefer this to browning on the stovetop, which can be very messy. The original recipe suggests that you grill the meatballs – I can’t because I don’t have a grill, but a very interesting idea!
To find the perfect cooking time, I used one of my favorite kitchen tools – my oven safe thermometer. You probe the meat and a long, oven safe cord attaches to the temperature display outside of the oven. The trick is to position the tip of the probe in the center of your meatball, so that it doesn’t touch the pan, which will be a different temperature altogether. My model also has an alarm that is triggered by the temperature. Set the desired temperature and walk away – the thermometer will tell you when your food is done. Brilliant!
They smell AMAZING – herby, cheesy, meaty, fantastic. The red pepper is my favorite part, which gives you lovely heat at the end of your bite. I think they would go great with the original recipe‘s pasta and lemon sauce or pretty much anywhere you’d use beef meatballs. We stuck them in butternut squash soup and they were awesome.