So a chicken gets dressed up for the ball…

Chicken meatballs.

Are like space.

They are my final frontier.  There is so much to explore with them and yet, I’ve only been so far as the moon.  Which is made of mozzarella.  Not green cheese.  Well maybe it gets moldy from time to time.

Anyway, it was an off-again-on-again rainy kind of day and it’s been kind of a tiring week, one of those weeks where I’ve been craving comfort foods all the time.  So far this week there’ve been hot dogs, barbecue, pizza, Hunan chicken and today, pasta.  Rigatoni.  With red sauce.  And chicken meatballs.

1 pound ground chicken breast
1 link (about 1/3lb) hot Italian pork sausage

2 tbsp spice mix (whatever you like–mine is paprika, cumin, chile powder, ancho chile powder, red pepper, brown sugar, salt, pepper and thyme)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

Fluff meat, spices, cheese and crumbs together–I find using two forks works best for attempting to “fluff” ground chicken, which is a wet, sticky meat.  You want the ground pork, spices and cheese to be as incorporated into the chicken as possible, for even distribution.  Then roll into balls a bit bigger than 1 inch each.  You should get 12-15 out of the mix.  Place them on a tinfoil covered baking sheet sprayed with baking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 20 minutes.

This will help them keep their shape.  When you’re ready to cook, pull the baking sheet out of the fridge and let it and the meatballs warm up before baking them at 400F for about 20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

Pasta and Sauce
Josh’s favorite pasta is rigatoni, so that’s what we went with; we always have a box in the cupboard.  To accompany the rigatoni and meatballs, I did a very simple sauce:

3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
1 tbsp spice mix (the same used in the meatballs above)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
4 cups fresh baby spinach
cooked chicken meatballs

Sauté the garlic in the olive oil over medium low heat, or until garlic is translucent and sweet.  Add crushed tomatoes, brown sugar and spice mix; stir together and set heat to medium.  Cover and let the tomatoes cook, stirring frequently.  Near the end of the cooking time (should take around 10 minutes, or about as long as the pasta will take to cook), add in parsley and basil.

When the meatballs are done, add them and the spinach into the sauce; spinach first.  Add pasta and mix thoroughy.

Serve with a bit of cheese on top and a crusty piece of garlic bread on the side.  Yum!

These meatballs were pretty good.  Good but light flavor and could easily accompany an arrabiata sauce, a lemon sauce, or even just a simple olive oil and parmesan mix.  Josh enjoyed them very much as well, but suggested next time they be made into miniature meatballs.  I think ones this size would be excellent on sandwiches—pile them with some cheese, caramelized onions and tomato sauce on a crusty baguette—would be delish.  I also think I will try these grilled on skewers with chunks of lemon and then pile that into a salad with endive, croutons, maybe some fresh fennel…who knows?

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