Meatballs have always had a special place in my heart, and my stomach. Because chicken meatballs seemed less intimidating, it was one of the first recipes I tried shortly after I decided to pursue a paleo lifestyle, and venture towards more nutrient-dense pastures.
At that time, I didn’t really understand the versatility of chicken meatballs, or ground meats in general. Now, meatball dishes, specially ones that include chicken meatballs simmered in tomato sauce, are quite possibly my favorite thing to make because they are simple, tasty, and provide opportunity for incredible variety.
Because ground chicken is typically more lean, it’s susceptible to becoming dry and flavorless when exposed to traditional cooking methods like sautéing. I’ve found the best way to keep chicken meatballs flavorful and moist is to allow them to simmer in a flavorful liquid using slower cooking techniques. This recipe also mixes the meatballs with a nut meal, which adds flavor to the meatballs and keeps them entirely gluten-free (although, no one will notice.)
If that sounds complicated—it’s not. In my opinion, it’s actually easier to do because after browning the meatballs, the cooking virtually takes care of itself. And, that’s as close as I’ll ever get to having a sous chef, so I’ll take it.
Adding tomato sauce to the chicken meatballs help to infuse the meatballs with more flavor, and keep them from drying out. During the simmering, the amount of liquid will slightly reduce, and the tomato sauce that remains acts as the perfect finishing sauce for topping the meatballs. To kick it up a notch, place your meatballs on top of sautéed vegetables like squash or broccoli, or serve on a bed of rice.
- Combine cashew meal, garlic, sage, salt, and pepper together and mix well.
- In a large bowl, mix the ground chicken, onions and pre-combined spices using your hands. Shape into 1.5″ balls, and place in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
- Once meatballs begin to brown (about 3-4 minutes), flip each meatball using tongs.
- After browned on both sides, add tomato sauce, broth, mushrooms, and tomatoes and softly shake the pan to incorporate.
- Reduce heat to low, cover with lid, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.