BAKED MINI CHICKEN MEATBALLS AND ORECCHIETTE IN A TOMATO CREAM SAUCE
• ½ cup Panko
• ¼ cup milk
• ½ lb. ground chicken
• 1 egg
• 2 Tbsp. grated or shredded (in food processor) onion
• 1 Tbsp. fresh minced parsley
• 1 Tbsp. sour cream
• ½ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. black pepper
Pasta + Sauce
• 2 cups uncooked orecchiette pasta
• ¼ – ⅓ cup reserved pasta water*
• 1 cup jarred Tomato Basil pasta sauce (I used this brand – it has clean ingredients)
• ½ cup heavy cream
• ½ cup mini mozzarella balls (“pearls”-found next to fresh mozzarella)
• fresh chopped parsley or basil
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine Panko with milk. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until milk is absorbed. To the Panko, add the chicken, egg, onion, parsley, sour cream, salt and pepper. The mixture should be quite wet.
2. Turn on your broiler on HIGH.
3. Shape the chicken mixture into 1¼-inch meatballs (I used 1 tsp. measuring spoon) and place in a single layer on a lightly coated with cooking spray or oil baking sheet.
4. Broil the meatballs on HIGH for 3-4 minutes (I had my oven rack set in the middle) or until lightly golden and almost fully cooked but still slightly pink on the inside. Keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook! Remove and let stand at room temperature while preparing pasta+sauce.
Pasta + Sauce
1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Reserve ¼ – ⅓ cups of pasta water and drain the rest.
2. In a large saute pan, heat pasta sauce over medium heat. Add cream and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs and simmer over low/med heat for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly and meatballs are cooked through. (Meatballs should be super moist, tender, and white on the inside).
3. Add cooked pasta to the sauce and the reserved pasta water.** Give it couple stirs with a spoon and then add the mozzarella balls.
4. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve immediately.
*adding starchy water to the sauce will produce creamy and silky sauce with least amount of oil on the surface, plus it will help sauce adhere to the pasta
**start off with ¼ cup of reserved pasta water and add more if sauce is still too thick