These meatballs are so tasty, you definitely will not miss the beef. They are so moist, and absolutely delectable in the tomato sauce and topped by the cheese. Real comfort food for a cold winter night.
For the sauce:
- 1 (28 oz.) can whole plum tomatoes (Cento San Marzano Organic in puree is my first choice)
- 11/2 tbsp. butter
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 2 tbsp. organic tomato paste
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
For the meatballs:
- 3/4 cup panko
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 large eggs
- 2 lbs. ground chicken
- 2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 4-8 oz. shredded mozzarella
- 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
- 2-3 tbsp. minced fresh basil (optional)
- Puree tomatoes in food processor until smooth, reserving puree. Melt the butter in a 2-3 qt. pot and saute onion and garlic till translucent, adding red pepper flakes. Stir in the tomato paste, and mix for a minute. Stir in tomato puree and reserved puree in can, add salt and pepper, lower the flame, and simmer for about 10 min. Take off heat, and add the cream. Set aside.
- To make the meatballs, combine the ground chicken, panko, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, eggs, and tomato paste. Stir together with a fork just until blended. With wet hands, form the mixture into meatballs about 1½-inch in diameter.
- In large nonstick pan, pour about 2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, and heat. Add meatballs, and brown on all sides. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt as they saute. Pour tomato sauce in bottom of baking dish. Add meatballs on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and mozzarella and refrigerate until ready to serve. Then heat the oven to 400? F. Put covered baking dish in oven for about 45 min. Take cover off, put broiler on and broil till cheese browns for about 5-8 min. Garnish with fresh basil if desired.
- Serve with pasta or plain with good Italian bread.