Friday, January 8, 2010

Tomato Paste.

At the beginning of the school year, I bought a small can of tomato paste. I used about a tablespoon for something-or-other, wrapped the remaining paste it in foil and plastic wrap, and stashed it in the freezer (a la Karen Hunter).

The tomato paste returned for these meatballs--an atypical dinner choice for me--but since we have so much angel hair pasta laying around, I wanted to try and use some of it up prior to Laura's departure (Laura has gone to Morocco for the semester, have I mentioned that?). Matt was also over for dinner, and as you may recall, Matt loves spaghetti.

But the way this recipe uses tomato paste sent me running out for more. It deepens the flavor, and adds a really hearty richness to sauces and other recipes, like this one. I've been adding it to everything lately. Just a little goes a long way.

The meatballs were great, too. We used turkey bacon instead of the pancetta, which may have made the meatballs greasier than intended. The best thing about these meatballs is the fact that they're baked--no messing with hot oil!

Baked Chicken Meatballs
Serves 4
From Smitten Kitchen

3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
1/3 cup milk
3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large egg1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F with a racks the upper thirds. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.

Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.

Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, and parsley.

Form 12 meatballs and arrange in another 4-sided sheet pan (I used a 9×13 roasting dish). Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs (the paste/oil does not mix in any cohesive manner, but just smoosh it on and run with it) , then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (though mine took a good 5 minutes longer).

Serve over angel hair pasta with plenty of grated Parmesan.

1 comment:

Jacquie said...

our plan for tonight was potato soup, fresh bread, and something green-- but now that i've seen this... hmmmm. tough call.