Meatball parmesan is one of those dishes that is always good to have in your back pocket as a regular home cook. Not only is it beautiful and delicious (trust me, even the most picky eater will want to give this a shot), but meatball parmesan is also fairly easy to make. Total prep time, usually doesn’t exceed 30-40 minutes, and baking takes about 20 minutes (after a few practice runs!).
I first found out about this dish when I was flipping through Alton Brown’s new cookbook, Everyday Cook, at Williams-Sonoma. Of course, I bought it immediately (yey, signed copy!). I absolutely love cooking his recipes. His take on traditional comfort food is so refreshing and interesting (with a few international curve balls thrown in… I’m yet to make the Mango Lassi on the first page). When my husband gets a bit tired of all the cooking experiments for dinner, I whip up the meatball parmesan, and his plate is always empty after dinner.
Infused Oil Recipe (use a small but deep saucepan, you want these ingredients to float) (10-15 min)
- 10 oz extra virgin olive oil
- 8 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 full sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 10 basil leaves, sliced roughly
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 oz panko bread crumbs
- 3 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1½ lb ground chicken
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp Herb Oil (above)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Quickie Marinara Sauce (above) or store-bought tomato sauce
- 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, grated (or more, if you really love cheese or you’re making lots of pasta)
Quickie Marinara Sauce (10 min)
- IMPORTANT: 28 oz San Marzano whole tomatoes, crushed (make sure to take out the rough bits and some residual skin). Get an extra can, if you’re making this dish with lots of pasta.. And adjust the steps below.
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly slivered
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Heat oven to 400F. While ti’s heating up, begin infusing your oil as follows:
- Combine all of the oil and fresh herbs/pepper flakes in a deep, small saucepan over medium heat. This will bubble pretty vigorously, but when the basil leaves start to lose their color, you know it’s time to strain! Strain the oil into a jar and toss the solids. You can freeze whatever you don’t use.
- Before you make your chicken meatball parmesan mix, set aside ½ oz panko crumbs and 1 oz Parmesan (you will roll your balls in this mixture later)
- Combine the chicken, egg, 1 tablespoon of the infused oil you just made, the remaining 2½ ounces panko, the remaining 2 ounces Parmesan, the basil, garlic powder, parsley and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, gently combine until just incorporated (don’t use a mixer, and don’t mix too hard or too long).
- Make about 20 meatballs (golfball size or a little smaller), and roll them around in the panko & Parmesan mixture you set aside earlier.
- Heat 1 tbsp infused oil over medium heat in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Brown the meatballs in the herb oil, about 30 seconds on each side, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan.
- Place meatballs on a big plate while you make your Quickie Marinara Sauce in the same pan.
- Heat 1-2 tbsp of the herb oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and oregano and saute for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt to the pan, and cook for about 5 min, breaking up the tomatoes as they soften (use a stiff spatula or a potato masher).
- Add the meatballs back to the pan, cover with the grated mozzarella and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes, and the cheese is melted.