I have a conundrum: I like the idea of chicken parm. Actually, I like the idea of almost any parm- veal, eggplant, etc. However, what I don’t enjoy is that the base ingredient is deep fried before being covered in sauce and cheese. I know, that does make me an oddity, and I accept that.
This pickiness, if we need to label it, means that I need to find ways to make this dish in a manner that I like. Sure, I could bake a chicken breast and cover it with sauce, but that’s a simple solution. Why not make something more creative?
That brings me to these chicken parm meatballs. They satisfy my craving for chicken parm without all of the weight of fried food. However, I don’t think they qualify as health food. There is a half cup of parmesan in these meatballs, and then the final dish is topped with a bunch of mozzarella. (I suggest 3/4 cup, but you definitely could use more.) My goal wasn’t to make chicken parm healthier necessarily, it was to remove the fried element of the dish.
What I like about this recipe is that these meatballs are full of flavor. Using good Parmesan is an important part of it. You don’t need to buy incredibly high end, but you should start with a block of Parmesan and grate it yourself. Pack the measuring cup full. Then, be sure to use panko and not regular breadcrumbs. Panko makes for a sturdier meatball that holds together well and is toothsome to the bite. A final ingredient note: don’t skip the kosher salt; it brightens the herb flavors, as well as emphasizing the salty nature of the parmesan.
One more thing
Now that you have decided to make these meatballs (You have, haven’t you?), you have another decision to make. How do you serve them? You can go classic and serve them atop a bed of spaghetti, perhaps with a little extra marinara. You can go with a healthier route and place the meatballs on a pile of zoodles. They can become the filling for a chicken meatball sub. Or if it’s an evening or afternoon of snacking, you can serve them as is, just grab a plate and a fork.
One recipe dilemma solved. It’s time to start looking for the next and experimenting in my kitchen.
Chicken Parm Meatballs
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1/2 cup panko
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 large egg
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 cups marinara
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or a thin layer of olive oil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, panko, Parmesan, egg, garlic, salt, oregano, basil, and black pepper.
Mix well. (I prefer to use my hands to make sure it is thoroughly combined.)
Form mixture into balls the size of walnuts.
Place on prepared baking sheet, an inch or two apart.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Cover the bottom of a medium-sized casserole dish with marinara.
Add meatballs and top with additional marinara.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle with mozzarella.
Bake for 15 additional minutes or until cheese is fully melted.