I adapted this recipe for Chicken Parmesan Meatballs and Spaghetti from one I saw demonstrated on The Rachael Ray Show. Over the years, it has become a family favourite and one we make every time that ground chicken goes on sale. It adds a new twist to both spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmesan.
CHICKEN PARMESAN MEATBALLS AND SPAGHETTI RECIPE
1 lb. ground chicken
(optional: a 10 oz. pkg. of frozen chopped spinach that has been drained and as much moisture squeezed out as possible – I didn’t include the spinach because I was making this meal for my daughter and she doesn’t care for spinach but I would like to try it with the spinach for myself)
1 grated or finely minced clove of garlic
3-4 T. grated or finely minced onion
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (you might want more to add to the sauce or to sprinkle over each serving – I don’t care for that much Parmesan so I limited myself to this 1/2 cup)
1/8 tsp. grated fresh nutmeg or 1/4 tsp. dried ground nutmeg
milk – no more than 1/4 cup is needed
1 egg (in all honesty when I went to make this dish I had no eggs left so I omitted this and it was still delicious. Probably better with the egg though!)
1 T. parsley (again I omitted this. I am not a huge fan of parsley and frankly, I simply forgot to put it in)
salt and pepper to your liking
2 T. tomato paste plus 1 more T. tomato paste (the recipe was delicious but as you will see in my instructions below when I make this again I will use 2 T. tomato paste plus 2 more T. tomato paste as I think this will be even better)
1 T. EVOO (again I think I will try increasing this next time. I will start by bumping it up to 1 1/2 T. and if that doesn’t seem sufficient, I will increase it to 2 T. instead.)
Spaghetti or other favourite pasta but we used spaghetti (I highly recommend Barilla brand – no they don’t sponsor me in any way, I just happen to like their brand best unless I am buying the gourmet fresh pasta or making my own)
Spaghetti sauce (I used one large can of Hunt’s Thick and Rich Roasted Garlic and Herb spaghetti sauce in the 680 ml size – again just a personal preference. I also like a similar sauce made by Bravo but they didn’t have it in stock at the grocery store. If you go to Rachael Ray’s site you will see that she made her own sauce out of canned tomatoes etc. but I don’t like canned tomatoes. Any sauce that is your preference whether it be canned or homemade would work just fine here!)
Instructions: Make the meatballs by placing the ground chicken in a bowl (with the spinach if using it). Add the garlic and onion to this. In a separate bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and nutmeg. Moisten this crumb mixture with just enough milk to make it barely moist – no more than 1/4 cup. Mix this into the ground chicken along with the egg and parsley (if using them), salt and pepper, and 2 T. tomato paste. Rachael said to divide the meat mixture into quarters and then form 3 meatballs out of each quarter. If I had done that, the meatballs would have been HUGE. Instead of the 12 meatballs she would get out of the meat doing it that way, we ended up with 18 and they were just the right size as far as I was concerned.
Combine the remaining tomato paste and the EVOO to make a “glaze” to brush over the meatballs. It’s best to put the meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet first and then glaze them or you may find they stick and are difficult to remove especially once glazed. While the meatballs were yummy, I found I would have liked more glaze on them…perhaps because I made more meatballs than Rachael called for? In any case, that is why I advise larger quantities above because I think you need at least 2 T. tomato paste and 1 1/2 – 2 T. EVOO to make enough glaze for my liking. Cook the meatballs in your oven (I set mine to 325 degrees F) for about 18-20 minutes until cooked through.
In the meantime, I heated up my spaghetti sauce on the stove and I began boiling water and cooking my pasta. Drain the pasta – Rachael advises saving 1 cup of the pasta water in case you choose to add it to your completed pasta – she has you take the pasta and toss it with some butter and your sauce (adding in some more Parmesan if desired), using some or all of the 1 cup of pasta water if desired to make it the right consistency. I didn’t use the butter – didn’t see the need for added fat – and I didn’t use any of the reserved pasta water – again saw no need for it. But perhaps if you make your own sauce or use a different brand than I did, you will see the benefits of this tip. Serve the pasta with the meatballs and some extra Parmesan on the side if desired.