It’s official: Smitten Kitchen makes the very best meatballs (even better than IKEA)
Y’all know how much I love IKEA food.
The heart-shaped waffles. The lingonberry jam. The salmon pate. The meatballs.
I don’t like IKEA’s veggie meatballs, but the regular ones are a fixture in my freezer, *if* I can get up to Round Rock to go to the store. That doesn’t happen very often, though, so I’ve been trying to make better meatballs myself over the past few years.
I usually bake my homemade Swedish meatballs, but after making “Smitten Kitchen” author Deb Perelman’s chicken Marsala meatballs for dinner last night, I might not make another meatball ever, including the IKEA frozen meatballs.
That’s a mighty statement, but these chicken meatballs were moist, gently seasoned and a perfect fit for that creamy Marsala sauce. I didn’t even mince the onions finely enough, and they still had a better texture than most homemade meatballs I’ve made.
One thing that hasn’t changed is my inability to make meatballs that are actually round. In the oven or the stove, my meatballs are always extra flat on at last one side, and I haven’t figured out a trick to help them keep their shape in the pan.
The great thing about this recipe is that the sauce alone is worth making, even if you aren’t making meatballs. Pan-fried, breaded chicken breasts or seared chicken thighs will leave a similar fond in the bottom of the pan to season the gravy. You could also replace the egg noodles with rice or mashed potatoes.
Only 10 days left in this cooking at home challenge! I’ve only cheated a few times, but I have my meal plan ready for this week and enough gas in the tank to make it though Jan. 31.
I can’t promise there won’t be at least one more frozen pizza, though.
Let me know what you’re cooking through the #Austin360Cooks hashtag on Instagram! That’s the best way to share your cooking tips and inspiration with other readers, and to browse what they are cooking to get ideas for yourself.
Meatballs Marsala with Egg Noodles and Chives
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the onion
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk or water
Freshly ground pepper
For the sauce:
1/4 cup dry marsala, sherry or Madeira
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cup chicken or beef stock
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta:
12 ounces wide egg noodles
1 tablespoon butter
4 teaspoons minced fresh chives (optional)
To make the meatballs: Place the chicken in a large bowl. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter, and once they are hot, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are a deep golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cool slightly, then add to the bowl with the chicken, along with the panko, egg, milk or water, 1 teaspoon salt and many grinds of fresh black pepper. Stir with a fork to combine evenly.
Wet your palms and scoop up about 2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture at a time. Roll back and forth briefly to form a sphere and then place on a plate. Repeat with remaining meat mixture.
Reheat that large saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter and arrange the meatballs in a single layer. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to work in two batches. Nudge the meatballs after they’ve had a chance to brown on the bottom, and then continue to evenly cook the meatballs, rolling them around the pan, until the meatballs are evenly browned. (They don’t have to be cooked all the way through yet.)
Finish cooking the meatballs and then set them aside to make the sauce and pasta. Heat a large pot of salted water over medium high heat and cook the pasta according to the package, about 6 to 8 minutes.
While the pasta water heats, reheat the meatball pan over medium high heat and pour in the Marsala. Simmer until the wine has almost completely cooked off, scrapping any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the butter to the pan and then whisk in the flour. Cook the roux for 1 minutet and then slowly add the broth, whisking the whole time. Add the cream or milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the meatballs back to the pan, turn to coat them in the sauce, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes to finish cooking the meatballs.
Place the noodles in a bowl and toss with a little bit of the final tablespoon of butter. Add meatballs and pan sauce on top. Garnish with chives, if using.
— Adapted from a recipe in “ Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites” by Deb Perelman (Knopf, $35)