As you know, I am a huge fan of Chelsea Winter’s recipes. This meatball recipe from her latest cookbook, Scrumptious, is another winner in my opinion. The clever use of chicken thighs instead of using chicken mince makes these meatballs deliciously moist. The flavour combination of garlic, lemon and feta brings an extra something to this recipe. I served these meatballs as is, with loads of parmesan grated over and some extra basil leaves – highly recommend!
- ¼ cup water
- 3 cups (440g) chopped spinach
- 1kg boneless chicken thighs OR stir-fry mix
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- ¾ cup crumbled feta
- ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of ½ lemon
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tblsp vegetable oil
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbslp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tsp dired oregano
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes in juice
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 tsp sugar
Pour the water into a large frying pan and bring to the boil. Add the spinach and cook for about 30 seconds to wilt. Drain in a sieve or colander and run under cold water. Squeeze hard to remove the excess moisture, then chop finely and add to a large mixing bowl.
Chop the chicken roughly and add to a food processor. Pulse to a chunky mince with some big pieces still in it (don’t let it turn into a smooth paste). If you don’t have a food processor, mince the chicken by chopping it very finely.
Add the chicken to the spinach with the onion, feta, breadcrumbs, egg, lemon zest and juice, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Scrunch with clean hands until evenly combined. Form meatballs about the size of golf balls, arrange on a board or plate , cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up (or until needed).
Heat the rice bran or grape seed oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the meatballs and brown all over – leave them for a minute or so until browned and crispy on one side before turning them with a metal spatula (rather than tongs, so that they hold together better). This may need to be done in two batches. Remove and set aside (they won’t be cooked through yet).
To make the sauce, without cleaning the pan, add the olive oil and onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for another minute. Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar and stir to combine. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the meatballs back in and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the sauce is nice and thick. Stir through the parmesan.
Sprinkle with the extra basil and serve (can serve with pasta, rice or cous cous).