Chicken Piccata Meatballs

My love ❤️ of chicken shines through in this amazing one pan meal, Chicken Piccata Meatballs. Much to my own surprise, I've recently discovered my love of chicken meatballs. It started with a Thai Curry Meatball I worked out when all I had was chicken thighs. (I notoriously hate the texture of chicken thighs, so I pulled out the ole meat grinder!) After that tasty experiment, I moved on to Chicken Parmesan Meatballs (cheese INSIDE the meatballs 🤯), and now I'm introducing these saucy Chicken Piccata Meatballs! This recipe eats fancy, but it is so simple to make and gets on the table in no time. The meatballs use easy-to-find ingredients that you probably already have, take just minutes to cook, and the sauce comes together in the same pan! 

I love the texture of the chicken, and it will never be dry if you 1) add some element of fat to the meat by either buying a white meat/dark meat mixture or adding fat, like I do, in this recipe with pancetta and 2) avoid overcooking your meatballs by checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer as you cook. Bam! Perfect chicken.

You can also bake the meatballs if you prefer. Here's a quick rundown: Form the meatballs and then bake them at 400° for about 25-30 minutes, turning them over halfway through the baking time. Personally, I like the pan searing method, because all the flavor left behind in the pan adds to the sauce, but do whatever works for you! 

(Silly little note, but kudos to The Boy: I sent him shopping for this recipe and he brought home curly parsley instead of flat leaf Italian parsley. I found out I'm a bit of a parsley snob. I tried to be all cool about it, but I felt myself being kind of...  a little bit of a b-word about it inside. Guess what? In the end, I really liked the texture of the curly parsley and it tasted exactly the same as flat-leaf parsley. The Boy wins. This time.)

Serves 4-6

Chicken Meatballs
 1 ½ lbs ground chicken
 4 oz very finely chopped pancetta
 2 large eggs, whisked
 1 cup panko bread crumbs
 ½ cup chopped parsley
 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano (one tsp if using dried)
 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
 Zest of one lemon
 1 tsp garlic powder
 1 ½ tsp kosher or sea salt (use half the amount if using sea salt)
 1 tsp black pepper
Piccata Sauce
 2 tbsp unsalted butter
 4 garlic cloves, grated
 2 cups chicken stock
 Juice of one lemon (add an extra half a lemon, if you're a pucker maniac)
 2 tsp cornstarch
 ¼ cup heavy cream
 ¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained
 2 tbsp chopped parsley
 Salt and pepper to taste
 1 tsp chicken bouillon or base, such as Better Than Bouillon (optional)

Let's make Meatballs!
1

Place ground chicken in a medium bowl. If you are an overachiever (as I am oft called), and are grinding your own chicken, I highly recommend adding the 4 oz of pancetta into the grinder with your chicken to really blend the meats together. You don't even have to finely dice it, just a rough chop will do.

Add all the other meatball ingredients to the chicken and gently mix together. Do not overmix or you might end up with a tough meatball. Treat your balls with care! (🤣)

Hot tip: when making any type of meatballs it is impossible to test for seasoning, since the meat is raw. There is a work-around used in the restaurant industry. Take a small amount of your meatball mixture and fry it in a pan. When done, taste it and adjust the seasoning in your mixture, if needed. Easy!

2

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan, or lightly grease the sheet pan if you don't have parchment paper. Using a small scoop (or eyeballing it if you're a daredevil) scoop your mixture into golfball-sized meatballs, and line them up on the sheet pan. Using lightly dampened hands, gently roll the scoops into nicely-rounded balls. Once they're all ready to go, heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot (you'll see it shimmer a bit when it's ready), add one tablespoon of butter. It'll melt up quick, so go ahead and add some meatballs! Cook the meatballs, in batches, until golden brown on all sides and cooked almost completely through (about 150°). If you cook them all the way to chicken's food-safe temp of 165°, you run the risk of having your perfect little meatballs go dry. Set cooked meatballs aside on a plate once they hit 150°, and, don't worry, they'll finish cooking in the sauce.

3

In the same pan that your meatballs cooked in, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and the lemon juice and allow to reduce for about 10 minutes. Whisk cornstarch with 1/4 cup heavy cream and add to the sauce, whisking the whole time, until completely incorporated. Add most of the parsley and most of the capers, reserving some for garnish. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. For even more flavor, add one tsp of a chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon. Nestle the meatballs (and any juices that may have settled) into the sauce and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes or until meatballs are completely cooked (165°). Serve over pasta or creamy mashed potatoes (my favorite!) and garnish with reserved parsley and capers.

Ingredients

Chicken Meatballs
 1 ½ lbs ground chicken
 4 oz very finely chopped pancetta
 2 large eggs, whisked
 1 cup panko bread crumbs
 ½ cup chopped parsley
 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano (one tsp if using dried)
 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
 Zest of one lemon
 1 tsp garlic powder
 1 ½ tsp kosher or sea salt (use half the amount if using sea salt)
 1 tsp black pepper
Piccata Sauce
 2 tbsp unsalted butter
 4 garlic cloves, grated
 2 cups chicken stock
 Juice of one lemon (add an extra half a lemon, if you're a pucker maniac)
 2 tsp cornstarch
 ¼ cup heavy cream
 ¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained
 2 tbsp chopped parsley
 Salt and pepper to taste
 1 tsp chicken bouillon or base, such as Better Than Bouillon (optional)

Directions

Let's make Meatballs!
1

Place ground chicken in a medium bowl. If you are an overachiever (as I am oft called), and are grinding your own chicken, I highly recommend adding the 4 oz of pancetta into the grinder with your chicken to really blend the meats together. You don't even have to finely dice it, just a rough chop will do.

Add all the other meatball ingredients to the chicken and gently mix together. Do not overmix or you might end up with a tough meatball. Treat your balls with care! (🤣)

Hot tip: when making any type of meatballs it is impossible to test for seasoning, since the meat is raw. There is a work-around used in the restaurant industry. Take a small amount of your meatball mixture and fry it in a pan. When done, taste it and adjust the seasoning in your mixture, if needed. Easy!

2

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan, or lightly grease the sheet pan if you don't have parchment paper. Using a small scoop (or eyeballing it if you're a daredevil) scoop your mixture into golfball-sized meatballs, and line them up on the sheet pan. Using lightly dampened hands, gently roll the scoops into nicely-rounded balls. Once they're all ready to go, heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot (you'll see it shimmer a bit when it's ready), add one tablespoon of butter. It'll melt up quick, so go ahead and add some meatballs! Cook the meatballs, in batches, until golden brown on all sides and cooked almost completely through (about 150°). If you cook them all the way to chicken's food-safe temp of 165°, you run the risk of having your perfect little meatballs go dry. Set cooked meatballs aside on a plate once they hit 150°, and, don't worry, they'll finish cooking in the sauce.

3

In the same pan that your meatballs cooked in, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and the lemon juice and allow to reduce for about 10 minutes. Whisk cornstarch with 1/4 cup heavy cream and add to the sauce, whisking the whole time, until completely incorporated. Add most of the parsley and most of the capers, reserving some for garnish. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. For even more flavor, add one tsp of a chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon. Nestle the meatballs (and any juices that may have settled) into the sauce and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes or until meatballs are completely cooked (165°). Serve over pasta or creamy mashed potatoes (my favorite!) and garnish with reserved parsley and capers.

Chicken Piccata Meatballs

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