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Almost Ethereal Chicken Meatballs

Let’s talk meatballs today. Frankly, I think meatballs can be challenging to make since there is so much that can go wrong. Too dry, too crisp, too flavorless … these are all common problems, and you have to do your best to avoid them.

Almost Ethereal Chicken Meatballs

Then there is the cooking method controversy. Should they be baked? Fried? Both? I’ve always been in the just-bake-em club. And that works. They get crisp on the outside,  tender on the inside. And then you toss them into sauce for a few minutes before serving them and it’s just perfect.

Except, it’s not perfect. The baking method works great for beef-based meatballs and reasonably well for turkey meatballs. But chicken meatballs are really hit and miss from the oven.

When I visited Minneapolis in November, I discovered how amazing a well-cooked chicken meatball can be. While I was there, I had the most amazing meatballs I’ve ever had. They were made from chicken and foie gras, and were buttery, soft and almost airy. Seriously, the only word to adequately describe them is ethereal.

At the time, I thought that the restaurant had some secret – something that made their amazing meatballs out of reach for the common cook. Honestly, I know I will never duplicate the meatballs entirely since foie gras isn’t something I have extensive access to.

But the texture? That sublime light texture? I can do it. And although it’s not the same amazing flavor, these meatballs have a lot of flavor of their own. It’s not the same, but it’s still fabulous — the best chicken meatballs I’ve ever made.

And the secret to getting there? 1) Cooking them on the stovetop — part frying, part braising (or is this boiling? I think it’s braising, but that term always trips me up). And 2) ketchup in the meatball. No, really. It doesn’t make the meatballs taste like ketchup, but does add this hint of flavor that you aren’t expecting. Yum.

Thank you, Cate, for introducing me to these fabulous chicken meatballs.

Almost Ethereal Chicken Meatballs

Almost Ethereal Chicken Meatballs

Yield: 4 servings

Adapted very slightly from a recipe by Giada DeLaurentis via Sweetnicks


  • 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Romano, plus additional for garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup no salt chicken broth


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. While the oil is heating, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Stir well to combine. The mixture will be loose.
  3. Using a cookie scoop (or melon baller), scoop the chicken mixture out and drop into the heated oil. Cook, without disturbing, for about 2 minutes and then flip and cook for an additional two minutes. You want to just brown the tops and bottoms of the meatballs. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate and continue cooking the meatballs in batches until they are all cooked.
  4. Return the meatballs to the skillet and pour in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the meatballs are fully cooked.


SERVING SUGGESTION: Serve the meatballs over gnocchi with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of Romano cheese and sea salt.

Adapted very slightly from a recipe by Giada DeLaurentis via Sweetnicks


Monday 21st of December 2015

My mother (and than me) has made a vaiotarin of this recipe for years. It is awesome. We add lemon juice and a few pieces of crystalized ginger to the sauce. We actually let the sauce simmer for a while than just dump it on the meatballs. I do not acutally measure the ketchup and brown sugar, but go by color and taste ( the sauce is on the browner side). I always make the meatballs from scratch, I think they are better that way. Now I am craving them.

skip to malou

Sunday 6th of March 2011

it's me again.. I came by to say.. CONGRATULATIONS!!! you are the winner of my CSN giveaway.... I will be emailing you shortly.

Thanks again and wee you around!

skip to malou

Wednesday 2nd of March 2011

I came back to say that I am so delighted to see you stop by and join me as I host my giveaway... btw, how come my rss feed below keeps on linking my comfort zone post? do you have an idea why it's not my latest post? just asking.

xo, malou

The Teacher Cooks

Wednesday 2nd of March 2011

Usually I just make beef meatballs and I must try these after your fabulous description! YUM.

Cate O'Malley

Wednesday 2nd of March 2011

So glad to hear you liked them!

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