Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs

I promised you a great recipe earlier in the week, and trust me, this one does not disappoint. This meal is absolutely delicious! My friend Katie sent me the recipe, telling me how much her whole family loved it, and I knew I had to try it. I don’t think Katie has ever steered me wrong on a recipe, and she certainly didn’t on this one. Mike claims it’s one of the best meals I’ve ever made and gave it a 4.25 rating! Creamy pasta flavored with chicken broth, tomatoes and cheese served with tender and flavorful chicken meatballs….trust me, it’s good.

This meal is a little on the expensive side, and slightly time consuming to make. It also makes a lot of food, so I don’t know if I would make it again for just Mike and I (although it’s just as good reheated, so we’ve enjoyed eating it for days). It’s definitely company worthy, and I think you could do a lot of it in advance to make it pretty stress free. With all the different colors and textures it has a beautiful presentation, and this is one of those dishes that will cause your guests to be impressed with your cooking skills! What I’m really tring to say is that if you’re invited to our house for dinner in the near future, you can expect this dish on the menu. :)

*Notes: It was cheaper to buy the parmesan/romano cheese blend, so I used that in both the meatballs and the pasta. I also ran out of cherry tomatoes after about 2 cups, so I used roma tomatoes for the remaining 2 cups. And finally, I couldn’t find Orecchiette in the grocery store so I just used small shells instead, which worked great.

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Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 pound orecchiette pasta
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon ketchup
3/4 cup grated Romano
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, hot
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the chicken and gently stir to combine.

Using a melon baller (or a teaspoon measure), form the chicken mixture into 3/4-inch pieces. With damp hands, roll the chicken pieces into mini meatballs.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

In a large (14-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add the Parmesan. Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Add the meatball mixture, mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of the basil. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with the chopped basil.

adapted, slightly, from Giada De Laurentiis

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28 Responses to “Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs”

  1. 1

    Jessica @ How Sweet — September 15, 2010 @ 10:46 am

    Orecchiette is definitely my favorite pasta. I love how it holds cheese. :)

  2. 2

    Simply Life — September 15, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

    yum, reading through all those ingredients it has to be good!

  3. 3

    Jenn — September 15, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

    I've made this recipe before, it is amazingly good!! Yours looks wonderful!

  4. 4

    Jennifurla — September 15, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

    Looks light & great

  5. 5

    Julie M. — September 15, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

    Look at your pretty food styling! :D This looks delicious! I wish you lived closer, I'd be up in a heartbeat to help you polish it off!

  6. 6

    Prerna@IndianSimmer — September 15, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

    I second Julie. What beautiful photographs Megan!
    Awesome recipe as well. I make it almost with the same ingredients but with ziti and then bake it. I'm going to try this one today itself I guess!

  7. 7

    megan — September 15, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

    Julie and Prerna – haha thank you guys so much for noticing that! I was attempting to put the techniques of white on rice couple into practice :) I have a long way to go, but I'm so happy you noticed! :)

  8. 8

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — September 15, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

    Julie and Prerna – haha thank you guys so much for noticing that! I was attempting to put the techniques of white on rice couple into practice :) I have a long way to go, but I'm so happy you noticed! :)

  9. 9

    Eliana — September 15, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

    You seriously delivered with this one – It looks awesome!

  10. 10

    SurfLola — September 16, 2010 @ 11:13 am

    I too, noticed the difference in your pictures and also in your descriptions. You made this dish look delicious and easy to make. I'm going to try it. Thanks for posting it and keep up the good work.

  11. 11

    Kim — September 16, 2010 @ 11:13 am

    I too, noticed the difference in your pictures and also in your descriptions. You made this dish look delicious and easy to make. I'm going to try it. Thanks for posting it and keep up the good work.

  12. 12

    Barbara — September 16, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

    I do love cooking with orecchiette, but then I saw your explanation and photo…I am able to get it here, so will try it. Really lovely flavors in your soup, Megan. And it's so difficult to take a good photo of a soup. You've done it perfectly!

  13. 13

    alison @ Ingredients, Inc. — September 16, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

    This looks great and I think my kids would like this for sure too!

  14. 14

    Megan — September 16, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

    This sounds like one the family (especially the kid) would love. I'm picking up cherry tomatoes at the farmer's market this weekend and trying this dish!

  15. 15

    Barbara Bakes — September 17, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    Sounds like a dish my family would love too!

  16. 16

    SurfLola — September 17, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    I made it! The reason I made it was because of your description. It turned out delicious. I have 5 in my family (does my teenage bottomless pit count as more than 1?) and everyone loved it.

  17. 17

    Kim — September 17, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    I made it! The reason I made it was because of your description. It turned out delicious. I have 5 in my family (does my teenage bottomless pit count as more than 1?) and everyone loved it.

  18. 18

    megan — September 18, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

    SurfLola – I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks so much for stopping back to let me know. How wonderful that it was a hit with your whole family :) Your comment made my day! :)

  19. 19

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — September 18, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

    SurfLola – I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks so much for stopping back to let me know. How wonderful that it was a hit with your whole family :) Your comment made my day! :)

  20. 20

    kristin @ delishliving — September 18, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

    thank you for your extremely sweet comment on my blog. i am happy we have connected too! this particular dish looks amazing, and i think my hubs would even like it :) i'll be checking back often!

  21. 21

    Lori — September 19, 2010 @ 2:14 am

    Oh, this looks so great. I am really in the mood for this kind of dish with the fall weather creeping in.

  22. 22

    sweetlife — September 19, 2010 @ 5:04 am

    love this dish, my girls would devour this and they love shells!!

    sweetlife

  23. 23

    Maranda — September 23, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    Oh this looks so good! I will definitely have to add this one to the "to be eaten" list! Thanks for sharing!

  24. 24

    Katie — September 30, 2010 @ 1:37 am

    Ok, so I just tried making this and it came out pretty good. I'm a disaster in the kitchen so was pretty surprised that it was still tasty. I'm going to try it again in a few weeks, and probably cook the turkey meatballs a little longer before adding the chicken stock. But all in all this was awesome – and my boyfriend liked it too! Thanks!

  25. 25

    megan — October 2, 2010 @ 7:54 pm

    Katie – I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks so much for stopping back to let me know. :)

  26. 26

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — October 2, 2010 @ 7:54 pm

    Katie – I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks so much for stopping back to let me know. :)

  27. 27

    Paula — December 31, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

    It seems like everything i make is either ground beef or Mexican, or chicken and dunplings. It is refreshing to come across a new chicken recipe and looking forward to making it TONIGHT.

  28. 28

    Lauren — November 12, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

    Made this last night for some guests and it was really good! The only time consuming part like some people mentioned was making the meatballs so I would definitely recommend making them ahead of time but other than that it was easy!

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