Growing up, I had a very cut and dry sense of food. It wasn’t anyone’s doing, just in my head, I created this black and white picture of food. It had to fit into the little niche space I mentally created for it. Pasta was always served with marinara (except for the one or two rare occasions that we had alfredo. Wings were always either fried or served tongue-burning hot with buffalo. Meatballs always were Italian.
But I remember this one time in the grocery store – I was probably a tween at the time. I stood, staring at the fruits. I surveyed the apples, oranges and bananas -fruits I knew so well – and felt that there just had to be something more. Peaches and plums, strawberries and blueberries, melons … That couldn’t be the end all, be all of fresh fruits, could it?
It’s not. Food isn’t cut and dry. It’s not black and white, if you have this, you have to do this sort of thing. Foods, flavors, combinations … they all adapt and change and grow as palates do. Cultures change and so do their cuisines. It’s just part of the ebbs and flows of food evolution.
These days there is nothing black and white about how I cook. I make what I want, and mix flavors liberally … What a 180 from that day in the grocery store, right?
Sometimes I get an idea in my head and I just cannot shake it. That was the case with these meatballs. I was thinking buffalo … but not quite buffalo. Something with the essence of the spices but a richer, more bodied sauce. Then toss in some blue cheese for a little cooldown and voila! And I wanted it to be something that could be tasty in a wrap or delish over pasta… Tall order.
I know, strange. Other people daydream about laying on the beach, I daydream about flavor combinations and how to transform a childhood favorite like buffalo chicken in a new, richer form. But it’s something that I enjoy. Creating foods that are a new take on the ordinary is fun.
For this particular recipe, the spiciness is in the sauce, so if you have kids that aren’t so into the kick-in-your-pants flavor, then you can serve these with an alternative sauce. Or cut back the buffalo to just one tablespoon.
Spicy Chicken Meatballs
- 1 small onion
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 can diced tomatoes (I prefer fire roasted ones with garlic for this)
- 2 tbsp buffalo wing sauce
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- Combine the onion and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth. In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients and mix together well.
- Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a baking sheet that is either sprayed with cooking spray or topped with nonstick aluminum foil.
- Cook for 20 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low.
- Add the meatballs and stir. Cover and simmer for 10 minute
- To Serve: Serve the meatballs and sauce over rice or pasta. Sprinkle with blue cheese and serve. Alternatively, spoon them onto a wrap or into a roll for a tasty sub. Just don't forget the cheese!
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.