These meatballs are a healthy alternative to the standard. Beef is substituted with ground chicken, and the “bacon” I use is turkey bacon. I can’t remember where I found the original recipe for this, but the version here includes my own modifications and substitutions as I make it.
These are a great dinner go-to when I don’t have a lot of time to prep. My boyfriend loves them as well, so I’ve officially deemed them man-friendly. Who knew chicken meatballs could be so flavorful?
Italian “Bacon” Chicken Meatballs (makes about 12)
- 2 slices wheat bread
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2-3 strips turkey bacon, chopped into tiny pieces
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (I’ve also used shallots, they work well too)
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large egg
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided*
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Break bread into small pieces and soak in milk in a small bowl until softened (about four minutes).
Cook turkey bacon pieces, onion, and garlic in 1/2 tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes (or, if you prefer, you can cook turkey bacon whole, separate from onion mixture, and cut it up after its been cooked). Cool slightly.
Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, turkey bacon mixture, (soggy) bread, and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange on a baking sheet (I’d either spray it with cooking spray or cover with foil first).
Stir together remaining tablespoon of tomato paste and oil in a small bowl and brush over meatballs (the paste/oil does not mix in a cohesive way, but just mix it as well as you can). I use a spoon and “paint” on a small red circle of the tomato paste mixture onto each meatball. Bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
*If you want an alternative to pasta, I highly recommend baking some spaghetti squash. I usually cut the squash in half, pull out the seeds/innards, and bake the halves at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Once they’ve cooled, you take a fork to scrape out the insides (pulls apart like spaghetti strands). You can served this with salt, pepper, and any kind of spaghetti sauce. It takes SO good with these meatballs!