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Savory Baked Chicken Balls

June 12, 2012

One of the things I remember most from my first trip to Israel is the incredible warmth and hospitality that was lavished on us from friends and family everywhere we went.  Translation:  Food, Food and More Food!  Not to mention being the happy recipient of all things edible from the Queen of the Israeli Kitchen in all things cooking and baking (you know who you are).

One memory that makes me smile every time I think of it is when we went to visit Stella, a dear family friend who lived in an older apartment building outside of Tel Aviv.  When we arrived at her door we were greeted with boisterous hugs and kisses. Her family had converged to see us. When we crossed the threshold, we saw that all furniture had been pushed to the perimeter in the small rectangular space, and there stood a table in front of us, stretching to the left–through the living room, through the dining room, and onto the balcony!

The table (or should I say tables) was laden with appetizers — eggplant (two ways), egg salad, hummus, pita, bread, marinated vegetables, pickles, and olives.  And then the platters began appearing from the teeniest, tiniest kitchen I had ever seen,  all transported by Stella’s able and loving hands.

When Stella carried out a platter full of giant baked meatballs, her two grown sons, clearly well acquainted with these meatballs, and who happened to be standing around while we were seated at the table, began helping themselves to said meatballs in mid-transport, before the platter could even reach its destination.

Though Stella’s delectable baked meatballs were beef, and highly seasoned with Romanian spices, they serve as the inspiration for these baked chicken balls, slightly crunchy on the outside from bread crumbs, and light and tender on the inside.

almost tennis balls

And they are SOOOO simple to prepare.

Get ground chicken from your butcher, or meat department, or be a big shot and grind it yourself.  I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful market nearby which has fresh chicken breast ground daily.

Add grated vegetables and your favorite seasonings.

i luv my veggies

Wash your hands and shape into balls, using a light touch.  You’re going for somewhat smaller than tennis ball size, and larger than a golf ball.  Please don’t be resistant to using your hands, AKA your kitchen’s best tools — they’re way more effective than using a spoon.

soft balls!

Believe me, you will want to eat them right off the tray too.



1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken breast
1 egg
1 T. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/4 c. fresh bread crumbs OR Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)–DIVIDED
2 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped or grated
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 zucchini, grated
1/4 red pepper, grated (feel free to omit, my pepper-free friends)
1 t. Dijon mustard
2  T. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2  t.  Garam Masala
1/2  t.  curry powder
salt and pepper
1/4 t. sweet Hungarian paprika


Quick Kitchen Math:  1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons

Preheat oven to 375 °.

Divide bread crumbs in half.  Set aside half the bread crumbs (or 2 tablespoons!)

Mix ground chicken with egg, oil and remaining ingredients, except for half the bread crumbs and the paprika.

Grease a baking dish that’s lined with foil.

Shape chicken mixture into about 10 balls and arrange in baking dish.   Sprinkle tops with remaining bread crumbs and paprika and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 15-18 minutes.  After 15 minutes, check to see if ready.  The best way to do this is to simply cut one in half (don’t worry, someone will be happy to eat it).  If it’s just barely cooked through and still very soft, remove from oven, place on stove and immediately tent with foil for 5-10 minutes to slowly continue the cooking process.  You don’t want them in the oven until they look fully baked, because you will have dry meat balls on your hands.

Serves 4 as a main dish, and 8-10 as a first course.

Come and get ’em

PS. Stay tuned for the zucchini and tomato side dish seen in the top photo; it will be featured in the next bb post!

You know I got this garlic at the Farmer’s Market

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