Healthy Chicken Meatballs
Who doesn't love meatballs? Topped over spaghetti or in a meatball sub, they are hard to resist!
Did you know in the United States, meatballs are commonly derived from European cuisine influence. Usually, they are served with spaghetti or on pizza, as in spaghetti and meatballs and meatball pizza. Despite its seemingly Italian traits, you will not find a dish called spaghetti and meatballs in Italy. Spaghetti and meatballs is actually American, it is Italian-American cuisine, assimilated from Italian immigrants coming from southern Italy in the early 19th century. Over time, the dishes in both cultures have drifted apart in similarity. In the southern United States, venison or beef is also often mixed with spices and baked into large meatballs that can be served as an entree. Another variation, called "porcupine meatballs" are basic meatballs often with rice in them.
But this blog is not about making porcupine meatballs lol. Instead, I will share a great crock pot recipe for chicken meatballs in a yummy tomato basil sauce! So good and once again guilt free!
Chicken Meatballs in Tomato basil Sauce
Tomato Basil Sauce
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium onion, split in half
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large stem fresh basil sprig
Salt, to taste
1 pound ground chicken, see notes
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, halved onion, garlic, olive oil, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and the basil sprig to a slow cooker. Stir then add salt to taste — I use between 1 teaspoon and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, depending on the tomatoes.
Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours. Remove the onion, bay leaf and basil sprig. Taste then add additional salt and pepper as needed.
Make Tomato Basil Sauce
The meatballs can be prepared ahead of time. Combine panko breadcrumbs and the milk in a large bowl. Wait 3 to 5 minutes until the breadcrumbs have absorbed most of the milk then whisk in the egg. Whisk in the parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, salt, and the pepper.
Add the chicken and use a fork or your hands to then blend the chicken and the egg mixture together. The meatball mixture will be wet. Shape into meatballs
Once the tomato sauce has finished cooking , add the chicken meatballs. To add them, use a spoon or two forks to gently lower them into the sauce. Cover the tops of the meatballs by scooping sauce over each meatball. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour or until the meatballs are cooked through.