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Our next stop around the world is Italy. Technically this dish is probably nowhere to be found in Italy, but it has all the flavors of Italy, combined into something even more incredible. Thank you Alton Brown, you genius man, you.
There are few cookbooks actually worth owning in my opinion, because so many of them collect dust and are only referenced for one recipe. This cookbook is an exception. I want to make everything in it!
Chicken Parmesan Balls. It’s all the yumminess of breaded chicken, in meatball form, still smothered in red sauce and mozzarella cheese. And it starts with this incredibly flavorful homemade infused olive oil.
To begin, make the oil: Combine 8oz olive oil, 3 garlic cloves (crushed), 1.5 thyme sprigs, 1 rosemary sprig, 5 basil leaves, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes over medium heat and cook until bubbling dies down and garlic turns brown. Remove from heat. Steep until cool and strain. Store unused oil in freezer.
For the Meatballs
- 3.5 oz panko bread crumbs
- 5 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 1/2 lbs ground chicken
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 Tablespoons herb oil
- 1 Tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the sauce
- 6 Tablespoons herb oil
- 2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes, drained
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 anchovies
- 4 oz low moisture shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 lb spaghetti
- Heat oven to 400°. Mix together 1 oz of the panko with 2 oz Parmesan in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the chicken, egg, 1 Tablespoon herb oil, 2 1/2 oz panko, 3 oz Parmesan, dried basil, garlic powder, parsley, oregano, and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, gently combine until just incorporated, trying not to overwork the meat.
- Divide the meatball mixture into 28 golf ball-size rounds and roll them in the panko mixture.
- Heat remaining tablespoon of herb oil over medium heat in a 12-inch ovem safe skillet. Brown the meatballs in the oil, about 30 seconds on each side, working in batches. Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and make the spaghetti sauce.
- Add 6 Tablespoons herb oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and salt and cook for 5-7 minutes. Breaking up the tomatoes as they soften. (I like my sauce a little smoother so at this point I pull out my immersion blender and blend until I reach the desired consistency)
- Meanwhile start boiling water for the pasta.
- Reduce heat and stir in anchovies and cook for another 5 minutes or until the anchovies completely vanish.
- Add meatballs back to the pan of sauce, cover with mozzarella and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes, and cheese is melted. Serve with pasta.
Recipe adapted slightly from Alton Brown’s recipe in EveryDayCook
If you are more of a visual learner, here is a video!
And a trip to Italy would not be complete without espresso and biscotti.
You just have to make these Double Chocolate Almond Biscotti from Our Kitchen Sink.
They are stupid simple to make and taste so legit.
The Chicken Parmesan Balls involve a bit more of your time, but all things Italian are a labor of love and well worth it. Besides, if you are going to eat carbs, they better be ridiculously good ones right?
Did you catch our previous stop in this series? India!