Chicken Meatballs as Comfort Food
I'm a person who eats a wide range of products, meat and poultry included. Although lately I've not been eating meat often, sometimes I crave a comforting meal which in some ways remind me of childhood days in my grandma's kitchen (by no means am I trying to say that only meat can be considered a comfort meal, hell no!). Everything she cooked and still cooks, tastes lovely. She manages to make the simplest things as attractive as Michelin starred restaurants are to some people. Now going back to what I wanted to say... comfort food plays an important role in our diets and each of us create our own versions of it. I was craving meatballs, I had some ground chicken in my fridge and this is what turned out after a creative afternoon in the kitchen.
One thing I was sure about: I wanted a creamy sauce, but did not want it to be dairy based, so luckily I found a pack of cashew cream patiently waiting in the pantry. A few kinds of spices, some coconut palm sugar for a touch of sweetness and a silky smooth sauce was simmering away within just a few minutes. I chose to make the simplest meatballs, seasoned only with salt and pepper because I knew that the sauce would give them a rich flavour.
I served these meatballs with a side of couscous and Puy lentil salad (can you call it a salad if it doesn't really contain any veggies?) which I had seasoned with fresh chopped mint leaves and lemon juice.
This recipe is all about the sauce. If you have your favourite vegetarian or vegan 'meat'ball recipe, try them with this sauce. It would go really well with tofu, mushroom or simply veggie based balls, too.
serves 4 | 1 cup - 250ml | 1 tablespoon - 15ml | 1 teaspoon - 5ml
For the meatballs:
- 400 g of ground chicken
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs or 2 slices of white bread (sourdough, GF or regular - whatever works for you)
- 1/2 of finely chopped onion
- a pinch of black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
For the sauce:
- 200 ml of cashew cream
- 1 cup of water
- 80 g of spinach
- 1 tablespoon of coconut palm sugar
- 1 teaspoon of curry seasoning
- 1 chilli pepper, chopped
- 1/2 onion (yellow or white variety)
- a generous pinch of garlic flakes or 1 clove of fresh garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
Make the meatballs by mixing all meatball ingredients together and forming small balls. Preheat a deep frying pan with a touch of oil and add the formed balls. Fry until crispy. Add the finely chopped onion and fry everything for a few more minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Pour in all of the remaining ingredients except spinach. Stir to mix everything, cover and leave to simmer. When the meatballs are fully cooked, after about 30 minutes, add the spinach and cook for a few minutes more. Add more salt if needed. Serve with minty couscous and lentils or your choice of side dish.