Meatballs. Gross. Or at least gross is what I used to think. I hate ground meat unless it is extremely well seasoned taco meat. But, I am also married to an Italian man who loves meatloaf and meatballs which means I needed to find a compromise. The meatloaf compromise is that whenever I will be out of town I buy the groceries for Mark to make his own meatloaf because NO ONE will ever get me to eat catchup-y ground beef....that for me is the epitome of disgusting. The meatball compromise is a new one though. I had never even thought of making meatballs because I don't like ground meet with my pasta. Really, I don't like any meat in my pasta. Pasta in my mind is to be enjoyed with cheese....lots and lots and lots of cheese. Parmesan, no Romano. So, I present to you my meatball compromise. The other night I made Chicken Meatball Subs. They were so delightful that we ate them two nights in a row, and probably could have eaten them a third night but we ran out of meatballs on night two. I merged a few recipes that I found through Google, which is what I always do, but these just came out amazing. This is rare for a first try of a recipe. Thank goodness it came out better than my first try at Chicken Divan (SO GROSS). So, here is the recipe for the meatballs and to make them into subs just add some garlic bread, mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce. SO GOOD, YOU MUST TRY THEM NOW!!!!!
3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
1/3 c milk
3 oz sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb ground chicken
3 T tomato paste
1 T finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about the time it takes to get everything else ready.
Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic with a little bit of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cool while getting the rest of the ingredients together.
Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, and parsley. Make 14 meatballs and arrange them in two 9 by 13 pans.
Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs then bake until meatballs are just cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Note: This was my first time using pancetta because I think it looks kinda yucky and smells even worse but it really helped with the moisture level in these. The chicken is so lean that you really need that extra fat content. If you can't find pancetta or it is too pricey, I am sure either canadian bacon or regular bacon could be substituted.