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Cook’s Country Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

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  • Cook’s Country Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

    These were outstanding! I only made a half recipe but no other changes. I’ll definitely make these again.

    CC Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
    SERVES 4 to 6
    TIME 1 hours, plus 15 minutes cooling

    INGREDIENTS
    5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
    1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
    2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
    1 teaspoons table salt, divided
    teaspoon red pepper flakes
    22 Ritz crackers
    5 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (2 cups), divided
    1 large egg, lightly beaten
    2 teaspoons garlic powder
    1 teaspoon pepper
    2 pounds ground chicken
    8 ounces whole-milk block mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)
    1 cup panko bread crumbs
    cup torn fresh basil

    BEFORE YOU BEGIN

    Avoid ground chicken labeled “99 percent fat-free,” as it tends to yield dry meatballs. Serve with crusty bread.
    1
    INSTRUCTIONS

    Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add sliced garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, teaspoon oregano, teaspoon salt, and pepper flakes. Bring to simmer; reduce heat to medium-low; and cook until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

    2
    Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place crackers in large zipper-lock bag, seal bag, and crush fine with rolling pin (you should have about 1 cup crumbs).

    3
    Combine crumbs, 2 cups Parmesan, egg, garlic powder, pepper, remaining 2 teaspoons oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Add chicken and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Divide mixture into 20 portions (about cup each). Using your hands, roll each portion into ball, and transfer to 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

    4
    Pour sauce over meatballs, then sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until meatballs register at least 160 degrees and mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

    5
    Meanwhile, combine panko, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and remaining teaspoon salt in bowl. Microwave until panko is light golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

    6
    Sprinkle meatballs with panko mixture, remaining cup Parmesan, and basil. Serve.

    WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

    We love both chicken Parmesan and meatballs with marinara, but why choose between the two? We wanted to capture the best flavors of both dishes while minimizing the effort. Starting with the meatballs, we chose a flavorful mixture of Parmesan cheese, dried oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to perk up the flavor of mild ground chicken. We then stirred a mix of crushed Ritz Crackers and egg into the ground chicken in place of a panade, a seasoned mix of starch and liquid. This paste added enough structure for us to skip the browning step (which helps meatballs hold together) and still have meatballs that held their shape and remained tender. We kept the sauce simple and seasoned crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce with a generous amount of fresh garlic, dried oregano, and pepper flakes. After briefly simmering the sauce, we poured it over the meatballs and topped it with a crown of mozzarella (for its gooey meltability) prior to baking. When the saucy meatballs finally emerged from the oven, a sprinkle of savory Parmesan cheese, crunchy panko, and fragrant basil imparted that familiar chicken Parmesan vibe.

    Charlene’s notes 8-6-2021: WOW! These were outstanding! I only made a half batch but otherwise changed nothing. I will definitely be making these again.
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