Herbed Chicken and Spinach Meatballs
These are meatballs to make when you want to eat on the light side, without sacrificing flavor. They are highly seasoned, with chopped spinach and cilantro and lots of aromatic spices. No need for a sauce, they can be served alongside a leafy salad or with steamed rice. Make the meatball mixture a day or two in advance, if desired.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1pound spinach, washed
- 1 ½pounds ground chicken
- 2teaspoons kosher salt
- ½teaspoon black pepper
- ½teaspoon lemon zest
- Pinch of ground cayenne
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- ½teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1serrano chile, with seeds, finely chopped
- 1egg, beaten
- 1cup soft fresh bread crumbs, from about 4 slices of crustless sandwich bread
- ½cup heavy cream, half-and-half or milk
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
- Lime or lemon wedges, for serving
Step 1Blanch the spinach: Plunge leaves a handful at a time into a pot of boiling water. Leave just long enough to wilt, about 30 seconds, then drain in a colander and cool under running water. Remove and squeeze wilted leaves into a ball. Using a large knife, roughly chop spinach on a cutting board — you should have about 2 cups. Squeeze into a ball again to remove excess water. (This may be done several hours or up to a day in advance and refrigerated.)
Step 2In a large bowl, put chicken, salt, pepper, lemon zest, cayenne, nutmeg, fennel seeds, cinnamon, spinach, cilantro, chile, egg, bread crumbs and cream. Using your clean hands, knead everything together, mixing well. Leave to absorb seasoning for 15 minutes or overnight.
Step 3Test for seasoning: Take a small amount and flatten into a thin patty. Quickly cook in a small skillet, about 1 minute per side. Taste, then adjust the mixture’s seasoning if necessary.
Step 4Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, form 24 rough balls and place on a baking sheet. (The mixture will be soft.) Lightly sprinkle the balls with a very small amount of flour.
Step 5Set a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. When oil is wavy, use a spoon to help slip in balls into skillet. Gently fry the balls without crowding. Adjust heat as necessary (high heat will make them tough.) Cook for about 4 minutes per side; they should be golden brown, not too dark. Serve with lime or lemon wedges.