It is a meatball time of year. The fig plant is naked again (after a whole summer of profuse leaf growing and not a fig in sight), grey has become the usual color of our sky and November flu has struck. I need warm food, kind, soft food for easy eating alongside a plate of pasta or a pile of braised red cabbage. Yes, I need meatballs.
This year, I need meat balls more than I might have in other years. (Although I can’t be sure. Perhaps there is always a reason to need meatballs a little more? A job applied for but not won, a plumbing problem when you turn on the heating again, sore fingers from cycling with no gloves. Meat balls heal many things.) House hunting inParis is as difficult as people said it would be. It has only been three weeks or so, but already I have an inbox full of rejections (and messages from a man who apparently thinks he can rent out half of his bed for 600Euro/month), a credit card full of website memberships and no good ideas for where else to search.
My man tells me daily that things will work out, we’ll find some place for me to live (I love how he considers this “our” problem). And I believe him. I do. Many people live in Paris, they have all found a house, there is no reason I shouldn’t too. But, eh. When yet another “I am sorry, we have found someone else”-message comes in and I consider myself lucky because at least I got a reply, I need meat balls. Cooking them, having their scent fill my house and, of course, eating them. It all helps. Today, we have chicken meat balls.
My supermarkets don’t sell ground chicken, leave alone ground organic chicken. So for meat balls I grind up chunks of boneless chicken (thighs if I can get them, breasts if I can’t) in the food processor attachment of my immersion blender. This makes it difficult to avoid chicken mush, but the meat balls don’t seem to suffer too much from this indignity. Sure, they’re a bit soft, but who minds a soft meat ball?
I use this Gourmet recipe for my chicken meat balls, but leave out the tomato glaze since I don’t like the metallic taste of tomato puree. Try it too, next time a stranger offers you the use of half his bed. They’ll help. Or at least they’ll make laughing at him that much more enjoyable.
Baked chicken meat balls
Based on a Gourmet recipe, found through Food and Thoughts
- 3 slices stale bread, crusts removed
- 1/3 cup milk
- 100gr bacon bits
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- olive oil
- 1 egg
- 450gr boneless, skinned chicken
- handful of flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Soak the bread in the milk. Oil a baking dish.
Put bacon and chicken into food processor and pulse until ground. Try not to create complete mush, but don’t worry if you do. Things will still work out. If your processor is as small as mine, work in batches.
When the meat is ground, take the bread from the milk, squeeze and tear into shreds. Cook the onion and garlic in a splash of olive oil until the onion is soft. Cool. Whisk the egg, then add to the chicken along with the soaked bread pieces, salt and pepper, the onion/garlic mixture and the parsley. Mix well. Form the mixture into 12 meat balls (or ball-like blobs if it is very soft) and put in the well-oiled baking dish. Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until just cooked through.