For this week's Chef's Kitchen, cue the Italian music, but not the penne.
"Oh no, no, no — not today!" Chef Isabella Morgia di Vicari said animatedly, with her trademark Italian flair. "We are going out of the box, baby doll!"
So forget the pasta with these 'balls. Instead, lay them over a bed of creamy, silky Polenta or white bean Ragu.
"Now remember," she said, "the meatball in a traditional Italian restaurant is the side show. Baby, it's the star of the show at the Meatball Stoppe."
She showcased her chicken meatballs during or visit. They're a variation of what her and Jeff's "Nonas" taught them. So we're talking about freshly ground chicken, fresh basil, garlic, egg, milk, cayenne, kosher salt, Romano and bread crumbs.
Chef smothers the meatballs in a variety of signature sauces, from Marsala and pesto to creamy Provolone.
"My favorite with this is probably going to be the buffalo blue cheese," Jeff smiled.
"I knew you were going to say that!" Isabella laughed.
So let's cook! You'll also find recipes below for two of her signature sauces.
Yields: 20 meatballs
- 1lb of ground chicken
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- Hand full of fresh basil
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup Breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/8th teaspoon Cayenne
- 1 egg
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Preheat oven to 400
Put the chicken in bowl. In food processor add garlic and basil and puree. Then add milk and egg and puree all the ingredients together. Mix ingredients with chicken and then add breadcrumbs and Romano. Gently mix with hands but do not overmix.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with Canola spray. Using a 2.5 oz ice cream scoop and put meatballs on baking sheet to insure equal size and bake 12 minutes until done or 160 degrees.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Yield: 7 cups
- 2 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- 15 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
- 6 anchovy fillets packed in oil
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teapoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon of Oregano
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a deep lasagna pan add garlic, anchovies, olive oil, red pepper flakes and Kosher salt.
Place pan on stove top and sauté the ingredients for 5 to 7 minutes to soften.
Remove from heat and add can tomatoes and oregano and mix well. Roast in 425 oven and cook 45 minutes uncovered until you have a nice char on top of tomatoes.
Remove from oven and let cool. Use an immersion blender (or whatever blender you have) and blend to your liking. We like our sauce a bit chunky, but feel free to puree if you choose.
Chef Isabella’s Signature Pesto
- 1 bunch of fresh basil, approx 2 cups
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ¾ cup of Freshly Grated Romano Cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Add everything but the extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and puree. While the processor is running add the extra virgin olive oil to blend.