A few weeks ago I had an idea to make some simple chicken meatballs. Most of my kids will eat meatballs, so it's usually a good easy weeknight meal for us. With some pasta and a salad, we've got a good dinner and it isn't much work. But I wanted to lighted them up a bit this time, so I thought I'd make them with chicken instead of my usual combination of beef & pork (or frozen!).
And in doing so, something magical happened...
I mixed these up and started browning them, and tasted one. I realized that it tasted an awful lot like a chicken nugget (in a good way!). I have one super picky child who eats nothing, but chicken nuggets are on her very short list.
So I asked her if she would be willing to taste this thing I just made that tastes just like a chicken nugget.
She agreed. And she liked it! I was giddy!
If you have an extreme picky eater, then you understand the joy you feel when you discover something they will eat that is homemade and relatively healthy.
I've made homemade chicken nuggets before, but it seemed so labor intensive that I didn't do it again. They had to be shaped like nuggets, and rolled in breading - a lot of work for nuggets. But for these I just used a cookie scoop to get the rough balls, and then finished rolling and dropped in a pan with some oil. I think because they had bread crumbs in the mix then they had a feeling of a crust, without having to actually crust them. It was easy and quick!
My original plan had been to plop all of these in a pot of sauce to finish cooking, but since she liked them I decided to not do that. I instead cooked them through and then put in a couple of oven proof dishes. I kept one dish of them plain, and the other I topped with sauce & cheese - so it had a bit of a chicken parmesan taste to it.
This is definitely one of those guideline type of recipes. This is the approximate ingredients that I used, but these quantities are not mandatory and really it's more of an eyeball type thing.
- ground white meat chicken - around 2 pounds
- Italian style seasoned bread crumbs - a cup or so
- eggs - 2 or 3
- garlic powder - a teaspoon or so
- onion powder - a teaspoon or so
- fresh ground pepper
- oil for cooking
Mix all ingredients together except the oil. The consistency should be bit like dough - you should be able to form it into shape without it falling apart or seeming too wet. It's the combination of bread crumbs + eggs that help hold this together. If your mixture seems too wet, add a bit more bread crumbs. Too dry, add another egg.
Generally for this kind of thing it's a good idea to cook a little bit to taste and check for seasoning before you cook the whole lot. Seasoned bread crumbs can often have a lot of salt in them, so I wouldn't salt this much if at all until you've tasted. Pinch off a bit and put it in a hot pan to cook, and then taste. Then add salt as needed. Then when you are happy with the seasoning you can shape into meatballs. I use a small cookie scoop, drop the scooped bit into my hands, finish shaping into a ball, and then put in my pan.
Brown on all sides in a pan with a bit of vegetable oil over medium heat. They likely won't be cooked all the way through, so you'll need to either turn down your heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or you can put them in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
You could also cook these from star to finish in the oven - I'd do a foil lined baking sheet, at 350 for probably 20-30 minutes.
We had ours with sauce & pasta. They'd be great just dipped in ketchup too.