Monday, December 11, 2017
Cooking

From the food editor: A recipe for Firecracker Chicken Meatballs, plus more ideas for ground chicken

This won't come as a surprise, but when universal pop culture moments happen, like the Super Bowl earlier this month or the Oscars on Sunday, my first thought is food. What am I going to eat during the event? How many bottles of Champagne do I need to buy? You get the idea.

That's why I'm a big fan of the story on Page 3E, in which correspondent Emily Young offers tips and recipe ideas for your Oscars soiree this Sunday.

There's no meal served at the actual Academy Awards, so the movie industry folks who attend often feast at the postshow Governors Ball, which has in years past served up Hollywood-worthy apps like lobster tempura with vanilla bean and pineapple, and smoked salmon pizza with farm-raised caviar and dill creme fraiche. I like to think of our story as a more realistic, home-cook-friendly answer to that small-bites spirit.

Not watching the star-studded show? A handful of these recipes would make for a whimsical, tapas-style weekend dinner any time. And that includes this week's featured recipe, chicken meatballs that get a kick from a fiery glaze made with hot sauce, sugar, vinegar and all of the red pepper flakes you can handle.

These meatballs bake in the oven, which is by far my new favorite way to cook them. The method is hands-off, low fuss and helps the meatballs cook evenly, which can be hard to manage in a skillet. The other thing I like about this recipe is its use of ground chicken, which like ground turkey is a leaner alternative to ground beef. Now, no one is saying chicken tastes like beef, even when it's in the form of a ball. It doesn't. These meatballs taste more like a chicken wing, except they are a lot easier to eat.

If you don't often explore chicken in its ground form, here are three more ideas for what to do with it:

Chicken Lettuce Wraps: This one is a no-brainer. Cook a pound or so of ground chicken in a skillet until browned and cooked through, then mix in some soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil, minced ginger and minced garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Spoon into a bowl and top with chopped scallions and sesame seeds. To serve, scoop a handful into a single sheet of iceberg lettuce.

Chicken Parmesan Pizza: Cook a pound or so of ground chicken in a skillet until browned and cooked through, then add 2 crushed garlic cloves, a tablespoon Italian seasoning and 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes. Bring mixture to a boil, cook for about 5 minutes, then simmer for another 15 to 20. Roll out a store-bought pizza dough, then generously ladle tomato mixture on top. Top with mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper and cook in a 425-degree oven for about 25 minutes.

Banh Mi Burger: Thinly slice 1 small cucumber, 1 medium carrot and 3 radishes and combine in a bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup white vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon sugar until it comes to a boil; remove from heat and pour over vegetables. To make the burgers, combine 1 egg, 1/4 cup chopped scallions, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken in a bowl, then form into 4 patties. Cook in a skillet set over medium heat until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Strain vegetables in the vinegar mixture. Place cooked burger on hamburger buns and top with vegetables.

Contact Michelle Stark as [email protected] or (727-893-8829. Follow @mstark17.

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