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Chicken-Pecan Meatballs

Photo: Oxmoor House


Hands-on time 37 mins
Total time 1 hr, 50 mins
Yield Serves 8 (serving size: 4 meatballs and about 1/3 cup sauce)
Bread makes for a good meatball. Ground chicken is a little wetter than beef, so this creation borrows two common practices: the addition of breadcrumbs (though you'll take the time to make fresh) and the building of a panade, which is essentially really, really soggy bread. The flavor profile nods to the South, but this recipe is a play on an everyday Mad Delicious meatball. Tinker with ingredients. Make this recipe yours.


  • Fresh breadcrumbs, made from 4 1/2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated sweet onion, squeezed of excess juice
  • 1/3 cup pecan pieces, divided (1/4 cup finely chopped, the rest for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chervil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 ounces whole-grain bread, diced
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 cups Charred Peach Passata
  • 1 ounce bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 6 lemon or lime wedges

Nutrition Information

  • calories 364
  • fat 18.5 g
  • satfat 5.8 g
  • monofat 7.7 g
  • polyfat 3.2 g
  • protein 29 g
  • carbohydrate 22 g
  • fiber 3 g
  • cholesterol 109 mg
  • iron 2 mg
  • sodium 558 mg
  • calcium 81 mg

How to Make It

  1. Set up a food processor. Tear up the white bread, and throw it in. Pulse. Pulse. Pulse. One more time. That's good.


  3. In a chilled bowl, combine the chicken, 2 ounces of the goat cheese, the fresh breadcrumbs, the onions, 1/4 cup of the finely chopped pecans, the chervil, the brown sugar, the salt, the black pepper, and the garlic. Don't mash, just gently fold with your fingertips.

  4. In another bowl, combine the diced whole-grain bread, the buttermilk, the hot sauce, and the egg whites. Let soak.

  5. Fold the bread mixture into the ground meat mixture. Don't try to create a homogenous mass; the pockets of moistened bread in the final meatball are glorious.

  6. Start rolling meatballs to about 1 inch in diameter. You should get around


  8. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray.

  9. Add half the meatballs, leaving about an inch between them, one by one. Let them brown on one side for about 4 minutes, controlling the heat, before turning.

  10. Remove the first batch of meatballs. You'll get them done in batches, browning all around as discussed.

  11. Lower the heat. Do some pan maintenance by scraping with a wooden spoon and discarding little crispies. Snack. Make more.


  13. All the meatballs should be outside the pan. (Somewhere away from extra pairs of hands.) Now, deglaze the pan with the chicken stock--add the stock to the pan and scrape it with a wooden spoon to get all those browned bits.

  14. Add the peach passata. Add all the meatballs. Bring to a simmer. Cover.

  15. Simmer the meatballs for about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and hold them warm.

  16. To serve, ladle about 1/3 cup of passata into a soup bowl, followed by 4 meatballs.

  17. Garnish the meatballs with 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese, crisped bacon, and a few pecan pieces.

  18. Serve with a wedge of lemon or lime.

Cooking Light Mad Delicious