Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Chicken Parmesan Balls an amazing Alton Brown creation

So I don't know how many times I have heard/read/seen the advice that you really must read through an entire recipe before you start cooking.

The foreword of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" 50th Anniversary edition has some words of advice that I would like to copy here again just in case you need another reminder:

Our years of teaching cookery have impressed upon us the fact that all too often a debutant cook will start in enthusiastically on a new dish without every reading the recipe first. Suddenly an ingredient, or a process, or a time sequence will turn up, and there is astonishment, frustration, and even disaster We therefore urge you, however much you have cooked, always to read the recipe first, even if the dish is familiar to you. Visualize each step so you will know exactly what techniques, ingredients, time, and equipment are required and you will encounter no surprises. Recipe language is always a sort of shorthand in which a lot of information is packed, and you will have to read carefully if you are not to miss small but important points. Then, to build up your over-all knowledge of cooking, compare the recipe mentally to others you are familiar with, and note where one recipe or technique fits into the large picture of the theme and variations. (pg xxvi)
Well those who have had the opportunity to see my cookbooks know that I often read them like a novel when I get them. I sit and study which recipes I may want to try and mark them with post it notes along the top of the book and make note of them in my notebook (I try not always good on this point). I have mentioned that I have a rule that I need to have at least 1 recipe per dollar I spend on a book - so if a cookbook costs $10 I must have 10 recipes I want to try. I even make notes directly in a cookbook about the steps, ingredients that go together for each steps. What's the point?

This cooking expedition is a real reminder that this holds true no matter how simple the recipe is and no matter how familiar you think you are. I missed a step  but at the end of the day the recipe was still amazing despite the imperfections in my technique!  The recipe was straight forward and honestly we enjoyed it more than a traditional chicken parmesan.

Oh and I happened to stumble across AB's page in which he has clarifications about some of the recipes in his Everyday Cook book (click the link for the book on amazon). Find them here: Everyday Cook Corrections and Clarifications. Just now that this recipe is (a) Game changer (b) easy weeknight meal that the Monkey helped out with!

Chicken Parmesan Balls

3 ounces panko bread crumbs (divided 1/2 ounce and 2 1/2 ounces)
4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (divided 1 ounce and 3 ounces)
1 1/2 lbs ground chicken
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. herb oil (another AB recipe could also just Olive Oil)
1 tbsp dried basil
2 tsp garlic power
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
Spaghetti sauce (the original recipe uses an AB sauce - I used 1 can or about 2 1/2 cups)
4 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, grated

  1. Heat the oven to 400F
  2. Mix together 1/2 ounce of the panko with 1 ounce of the parmesan in a small bowl and set aside. (note: this is where I messed up this is for rolling the balls in before frying).
  3. Combine the chicken, egg, 1 tbsp. of the herb oil, the remaining 2 1/2 ounces panko, the remaining 3 ounces parmesan, the basil, garlic powder, parsley, oregano and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, gently combine until just incorporated, trying not to overwork the meat.
  4. Divide the meatball mixture into 28 golf ball-size rounds (1 ounce each) (now - you can weigh out the mixture or use a cookie scoop - I used the scoop then rolled them). Roll the balls in the panko mixture (I missed this part of the step entirely).
  5. Heath the remaining 1 tablespoon herb oil over medium heat in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet. Brown the meatballs in the herb oil, about 30 seconds on each side, working in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pan. Remove the browned meatballs from the pan (if using AB's weeknight spaghetti sauce make it - or do like me an open the can)
  6. Cover the meatballs with the sauce, cover with the grated mozzarella and bake until the meatballs are cooked through about 10 minutes, and the cheese is melted. Serve over cooked pasta or on top of crispy bread. (Frankly - the 4 ounces of mozzarella was not enough cheese for us so we used more and because I still had that panko and parmesan set aside from earlier I just put them on top of the cheese for a crusty top.

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