Whether you call them albondigas, polpette or klopse, meatballs are undeniable crowd pleasers. But chicken — or turkey — meatballs can be a little tricky. They tend to be a little dry, bland or both.
It doesn’t have to be that way, says San Francisco food writer and Food Fashion Party blogger Asha Shivakumar. Her new cookbook, “Masala & Meatballs: Incredible Indian Dishes with an American Twist” (Page Street Publishing, $22), offers up more than 85 recipes for dishes such as naan pizza, masala chicken wings and this twist on the chicken meatball theme.
The trick to keep chicken meatballs moist and juicy, she says, is to add a little cream and some grated onion to the meat mixture. Spices, fresh ginger and lemon zest pump up the flavor factor. And if you’re wondering how to get perfectly round meatballs, Shivakumar says trying cooking them in — wait for it — “a Danish aebleskiver pan, which requires little oil and produces flawless round meatballs.”
Granted, not every household has such as a pan, with its signature round indentations. But if you’re OK with a little less perfection, a mini ice cream scoop works splendidly for forming meatballs, followed by a quick saute in “a good heavy-bottomed pan to get the perfect crust,” she says. “These meatballs are scrumptious either way.”
Here’s the recipe.Chicken Meatballs Sauteed with Garlic and Herbs
Makes 20 to 30 meatballsIngredients
1 pound ground chickenZest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
2 slices white bread2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 egg1 teaspoon plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
½ teaspoon black cumin seeds3 green chiles, chopped
½ onion, grated1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garam masala¼ teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of red pepper flakes10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/8 cup (6 g) finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chives1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon lemon juiceINSTRUCTIONS
In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, lemon zest and salt.
In a separate bowl, combine the bread and cream and let it soak well. Mash the bread mixture. Beat the egg and add it to the bread mixture, stirring to combine. Set aside.
In a saute pan set over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the cumin seeds and green chiles and fry for 1 minute. Add the grated onion and ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute more. Add salt to taste and let cool.
Once the onion mixture is completely cooled, add it to the chicken along with the bread mixture, black pepper, garam masala, turmeric, red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Using clean hands, mix gently. The mixture should be dry; don’t overwork it.
Place a flat-bottomed pan over medium heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Lightly oiling your hands, take 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it to make a smooth meat ball; repeat to make remaining meatballs. Place the meatballs gently in the hot pan. Fry the meatballs for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing a bit so that all the sides are browned evenly and cooked through. Cover the pan for 2 to 3 minutes to steam-cook the meatballs, if you wish.
Once the meatballs are completely cooked through, add the garlic, cilantro and chives and toss very well. Add the soy sauce and toss for 15 seconds. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and serve immediately.
— From “Masala & Meatballs” by Asha Shivakumar