The I Heart Cooking Clubs Giada theme this week is Served Family Style.
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When I saw the photo of Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs in Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites, I knew this had to be the dish I'd make. The Boy sure loves his meatballs. And this recipe just oozed family all over the place.
But changes had to be made after I read the recipe. Living in a small town, I knew I wouldn't find orecchiette or bocconcini or even ground chicken.
I was mostly right. Ground chicken: nope. Bocconcini: negatory. But was I surprised to see orecchiette sitting on the store shelf...almost as if it was placed there just for me. And this store now has orzo too! I was so excited I stood in the pasta aisle, pumped a fist, and said, "All right! Awesome!" over boxes of pasta. (I know you understand. Some of my fellow shoppers didn't.)
Giada's ground chicken meatballs became the usual ground beef. Could have gone to the butcher shop to check on ground chicken, but didn't have time. Could have used ground turkey, I suppose. But I don't like turkey meatballs or burgers. Coulda shoulda woulda, ya know?
Those cute little bocconcini became cubes of mozzarella.
And the cherry tomatoes became diced fresh Romas since they were half the price.
The cookbook photo may ooze family, but expensive ingredients do not.
Last week it was established that I don't have Giada's cleavage. This week's confession: I don't have her money either.
Results: Hmmmm. I don't think I can accurately rate this since I made some changes. We liked the mini meatballs. And the bites of partially melted cheese mixed in with everything tapped in to that part of me that craves melty gooey foodstuffs. But overall, this was simply "good." Not great.
Little baby meatballs may be cute and all, but let me tell you half way into rolling them (total= ~70) the cuteness wore off. I'm also not one to cook dishes that have a lot of last minute shenanigans. Sure, the meals I make take time. But once everything's in the pot, it just simmers away happy as can be while I tend to other things...happy as can be. The Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs asked too much of me right before chow time.
Factoring in the work involved, I needed this recipe to be more than just "good." It needed to be great.
Linked to:I Heart Cooking Clubs
Cookbook Sundays @ Brenda's Canadian Kitchen
Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs
from Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites and Food Network
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon ketchup
3/4 cup grated Romano
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, hot
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 ounces bocconcini mozzarella, halved
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the chicken and gently stir to combine.
Using a melon baller (or a teaspoon measure), form the chicken mixture into 3/4-inch pieces. With damp hands, roll the chicken pieces into mini meatballs.
In a large (14-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer.
Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add the Parmesan. Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Add the meatball mixture, mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of the basil. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with remaining chopped basil.