Its been awhile. So much has gone on in the few months since Ive been on here. We moved states and started new careers so Ive been kinda preoccupied with life in general. I realized I needed to get back to sharing some delicious eats with you now! While life was happening and I wasn’t blogging, I was still cooking because… well… we still gotta eat. I made this a few weeks ago and snapped pics because I knew this would be something I would want to share. Its a delicious chicken meatball pasta dish made with a tomato cream sauce, fresh parsley, parmesan cheese, pearl mozzarella, and orecchiette pasta. Heres the ingredients I used:
Pasta and Sauce Ingredients
- 1lb orecchiette pasta
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 container of pearl mozzarella balls- drained
- 1/2 cup dry sherry- use drinking sherry cooking sherry is full of sodium and yuck
- 2 cloves of garlic- sliced
- 16 oz tomato sauce (the kind that literally has nothing in it but sauce)
- 6 oz tomato pasta
- dried basil and oregano
- olive oil
- 1/4 cup reserved water from the pasta
- fresh parsley for meatballs and pasta
Meatball Mix Ingredients
- 1 1/2 lb ground chicken
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup parmesan freshly grated, plus more for the finish dish
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2-3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- salt and pepper
First what I did was make the meatballs and put them on a baking sheet that was lined with parchment paper. I mixed all the meatball ingredients together first before adding the chicken to help not overwork the meat. In a big mixing bowl I added the panko and milk, I let them sit together for a couple of minutes to ensure the milk was fully absorbed into the breadcrumbs. Then I added 1/2 cup parm (which I grated myself, all cheese tastes and melts better when you grate it yourself. I promise), a few tablespoons chopped up fresh parsley, salt, pepper, and the crushed red pepper flakes. Now you don’t need to add the crushed red pepper flakes. I feel like it gives it a little something extra without being crazy spicy or overpowering. knowing your spice limits is key. Hubby doesn’t do spicy, but still went nuts over these meatballs because I kept within the Hunt family “spicyness” limit haha.
So after I combined all the ingredients I added in the chicken and mixed till just combined. I used my mother in laws “cookie scoop” as a mini meatball scoop and it saved so much time. Now this mixture is gooey and sticky, so please be warned there will be a delicious mess. Push through that mess until you’ve used all the meatball mixture up and you are left with a bunch of tiny meatballs!!
At this point id like to add would probably be a good time to get some nicely salted water going for your pasta. Cook till Al Dente so there is still a bite because they will cook a little more when we add everything together. Also, before you drain your pasta, take about 1/4 cup of the nice starchy pasta water and put it to the side. It will help bring the sauce together
To cook the meatballs put your oven on high broil. We are only going to partially cook them so they get a nice golden brown crust on the outside and will finish them off in the sauce to help get the flavors to the next level. Broil these bad boys for about 4 minutes. You’ll know they are done by the color- a beautiful golden brown.
Lets start the sauce while those noodles are cooking. In a big skillet add olive oil and slivers of garlic to a cold pan. Why cold you ask? We don’t want to brown the garlic but infuse its delicious flavor and cook out that raw taste.
Turn on the stove to medium and once everything is heated up nicely, add in your tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes to get that raw tomato flavor out. Now that yummy sherry, and cook it down by half. Add the tomato sauce next and heavy cream.
Stir it all together and start adding the dried herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Save the fresh parsley for last to avoid overcooking it and giving it a bitter flavor.
Keep tasting your sauce to adjust it to your tastes but also remember that all the ingredients aren’t in yet so be patient there is more flavor coming.
In the meantime remember your pasta if you forgot about it. drain it and reserve some of that water. Keep the noodles nearby as you’ll be needing them soon within the next half an hour so it might not be a bad idea to give them a toss with some olive oil so they don’t stick together in the strainer.
Now once this is prepped, stir in your meatballs and get them covered in this delicious sauce. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to a very low simmer.
Check on the sauce and meatballs every ten minutes or so giving them a good stir so the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn. Nothing is worse than burnt sauce. The Italian in me weeps at the thought of it.
Once about a half an hour has gone by test a meatball and see if the center is fully cooked and no raw pink color is left. If they are cooked, which they should be at this point, it’ll be time to bring it all together.
If your skillet is big enough to hold all the noodles and meatballs then continue in that pan. If not dump your sauce into a bigger pot and go from there. Add your noodles to the meatballs and sauce, then pile on freshly grated parm. The more the merrier in this case. Pour in that reserved pasta water and stir it up letting these guys kinda just blend together for about 5 minutes over a low heat. After that time is up, take it off the heat, add in the fresh parsley and pearl mozzarella and serve.
Don’t feel shy about adding even more parm or parsley for a beautiful garnish. I served this up in a big serving bowl family style and everyone dug in. Of course we had delicious fresh Italian bread to soak up the sauce and all those delicious flavors. The meatballs had been cooked to perfection and weren’t dried out and had delicious flavor. The sauce was so good and was simple enough that it didn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients either.
Give this dish a go and make it your own for your family. Its really simple and different from your everyday spaghetti and meatballs. Let me know what you think!