Baked Chicken Meatballs

Have you ever tried to write an interesting story around meatballs? I haven’t before, and I probably never will again. Meatballs excite me, and there are a variety of meatball recipes that have come my way in life, and rarely am I disappointed. But aside from proclaiming these little suckers above as some of the best freakin’ meatballs I may have ever had in my entire freakin’ life, there’s not much else to say.

However, I did experience a meatball stream of consciouseness while pondering what to write about these last night.

I was eating these delicious meatballs on my couch while watching The Joy Behar Show. Joy’s guests were the Reverend Al Sharpton and Jenny Craig spokesperson Valerie Bertinelli. The fact that I was watching The Joy Behar Show has nothing to do with nothing, but it does prove that I’m just about willing to admit anything about myself and face whatever scorn and taunting might come my way in the booth tomorrow.

Of course, I might not get it at all for watching The Joy Behar Show. I might get it for the statement above, “meatballs excite me.” We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

Anyway, I was watching Joy and eating the meatballs, which led me to remember that last week, an hour of our show was sponsored by the video release of the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which made me remember that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is also currently available on demand, and that led me to think of San Francisco, which in turn led me to think of my mom.

Here’s why:

I recently spent a weekend with my mom in San Francisco, and I accidentally stumbled across something fun to do with your mom when you’re in a hotel room.

(Boy, is work gonna have a field day with me tomorrow!)


Ask your mom to grab the list of on-demand movies available in the room and see if there are any she’d like to watch. Encourage her to read the titles out loud. My mom likes what she likes, and generally the movies available in hotel rooms are ones she has never heard of NOR CARE TO.

This combination of elements produces a very amusing soound… the sound of a mother’s voice growing uncertain as she proceeds through each title, becoming especially confused when she hits the word that smashes apart any sense the title might have been making in her head up to that point, causing her voice to dart up at least an octave when announcing that word out loud.
“Cloudy with a Chance of… Meatballs?
“The Hurt… Locker?
“I Love You… Beth Cooper?
“G.I. Joe: The Rise of… Cobra?

My mom should not hate me for sharing this story because if I remember correctly, we both laughed when it happened.  She may, however, eventually begin doing what she used to do when I had my first blog, which was to end every story she would tell me about her life or the lives of my siblings with the phrase, “…I better not see this on your blog!”

Either way, I will happily make these excellent meatballs for her, along with a martini, should she request it on her next visit.

Baked Chicken Meatballs

From Smitten Kitchen

  • 3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped (Smitten recommends Canadian bacon as a substitute.  I went with Danish from the Farmer’s Market)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.

Cook up the pancetta (or bacon), onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened.  (This is the step that may lead neighbors to knock and your door and strike up a conversation in the hopes that you will invite them in for a bite of whatever it is you’re cooking).

Cool the mixture slightly.

Squeeze bread to remove excess milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in another 4-sided sheet pan (Smitten used a 9×13 roasting dish).

Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs), then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (mine took about 25).

If done correctly, these babies will melt in your mouth! Now go take your mother to San Francsico, check into a hotel room, and let the fun begin!

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2 thoughts on “Baked Chicken Meatballs

  • January 12, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Two things:

    A.) those look delicious I want some immediately,

    and B.) I’m not surprised your mom was perplexed based on those titles…if an alien civilzation with a working knowledge of our language was to come across that list they’d think we’d all gone loco for choc-o-puffs.

  • September 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I like the concept of your blog!

    I agree, these meatballs look delicious and especially with your proclamation that they are “some of the best freakin’ meatballs I may have ever had in my entire freakin’ life”, I’m going to be making them soon!

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