|Jerk. Chicken. Meatballs. Enough Said.|
What is it about sauces that make foods look so sexy? You know – when a roast is glistening like Beyoncé in the Baby Boy video.
Or when Bon Appétit asked which of these January 2013 covers were sexier:
|That buttery pork chop is giving some serious competition!|
True: dry food is hard to swallow and thus naturally undesirable. There’s also a ton of porn-tastic re-definitions and euphemisms on Urban Dictionary for “juicy” and its many synonyms. But added sauces mean added calories and food photographers often spritz with oil to add an unnatural sheen for pictures. It’s true of advertising and food magazines, and definitely true of many photographs on Food Porn Daily.
After testing these meatballs for the last three years I still question whether or not I should pair with a sauce. I think I’m programmed to think that meatballs need sauce. They’re certainly not dry – no breadcrumbs here to soak up the juices or dull the flavor. They don’t need flavor from marinara sauce, gravy, or that guilty pleasure grape jelly-BBQ sauce mixture that does well in a crock pot. Their spice is so powerful you could serve with brown rice and steamed cabbage and still remember the meal for weeks.
I’ve decided to go with a flavorful salsa of fresh pineapple (or mango) that adds both color and nutrition. And both recipes are super simple! Just shake, mix, marinate and bake for the chicken. I’ve been serving these at dinner parties for years with rave reviews and in all those tests I discovered that one hour in the refrigerator helps the dry marinade to better permeate the ground meat and smooth the flavors. You can easily scale the meatball yield up or down with 1 tablespoon of seasoning and 1 scallion per half pound. And for a party roll the meatballs a little smaller and use a toothpick spear each one with slivers of the salsa ingredients to make an elegant passed hors d’oeuvres. However you serve, these are absolutely drool-worthy without the drippy sauce.
|Skip the sauce and pack the flavor right into the meatballs with my jerk seasoning.|
|Make big 4-bite meatballs for meals or smaller 2-bite meatballs for entertaining.|
|These can go straight in your lunchbox for #mealprep. Guarantee you will not be tired of them by week-end.|
Jerk Chicken Meatballs
Makes 24 large meatballs, or 36 cocktail meatballs
2 pounds ground chicken or turkey*
4 Tablespoons Jerk Seasoning
4 scallions, thinly sliced to make about 1/2 cup
Use your hands to evenly mix chicken with jerk seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to marinate.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or foil. Mix scallions into chicken. Use your hands to form into even balls – about 2 Tablespoons for hors d’oeuvres or 1/4 cup for a fork and knife. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn with tongs and bake another 10-15 minutes depending on size. Serve immediately or pack for meal prep. Reheat in the microwave.
*Ground chicken thighs are best here because they are flavorful with just enough fat, but breast meat also works well. I used this dish as an excuse to buy a meat grinder KitchenAid attachment.
|Colorful veggies add the most flavor.|
|Pineapple, mango, oranges – you could really do this salsa with any fruit without a recipe.|
Fresh Pineapple Salsa
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple (or mango)
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped orange bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.