Thursday, January 28, 2016

CHICKEN PARMESAN MEATBALL CASSEROLE



I  love having a variety of meats in the freezer-it make meal planning easy when the protein is in the freezer waiting to be thawed for whatever recipe I choose to make.  I try to have at least 1 package of ground chicken or turkey on hand. I love using it in chili and every so often, there's nothing better than a Fiery Chicken (or turkey) Cheeseburger-they really hit the spot. When I found this recipe, I just knew it would be something we'd love-and it was an all in one dish-even better!
I have a favorite go-to recipe for marinara sauce that takes no time at all to make and uses basic ingredients.  I put that on to simmer, then moved on to the next step.

I decided to amp up the flavor in the meatballs.  I added fresh garlic and chopped fresh parsley to the mixture, just like I do when I make meatballs out of ground beef for meatballs and spaghetti. Ground chicken is pretty bland, so I added some dried spices to give the meatballs multiple layers of flavor. I reached for my standards-onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. I always have a freezer bag of bread crumbs that I make from stale bread so I used 1 cup of those in place of the Panko the original recipe calls for.

I have great luck baking meatballs on my broiler pan.  I used my Pampered Chef cookie scoop which makes the perfect 1" meatballs (yes, Bob measured the scoop!). I kept my hands slightly damp which helped the chicken mixture not stick. I got 44 meatballs out of the batch I made.  Depending on what size you roll them, the amount could change.  I baked the meatballs until my instant read thermometer hit 165 degrees.  Once they were cooked through, I placed them in a bowl, added a touch of the marinara sauce and gently stirred them until the sauce lightly coated each one.

While the meatballs were baking, I got the pasta cooked. I used cavatappi pasta, but any small shape pasta would work in this.

Once the pasta was cooked and drained, I mixed the remaining sauce into it, then weighed it and placed half in the bottom of the baking dish. Weighing isn't necessary-I just prefer even layers. Half of the sauce-coated meatballs went over top, then half the cheese and half the Italian seasoning.  I repeated the layers and into the oven it went for 20 minutes.

When I removed it from the oven, both Bob and I could see that the top needed more cheese.   I had used pre-shredded mozzarella I had in the refrigerator.  For a casserole like this-I don't think it worked that well. I had to add another cup to the top to get the meatballs even partly coated with cheese. Note to self-next time, use the block mozzarella cheese and shred it by hand-it's MUCH creamier. Change number one.

I'll also be making my marinara sauce a little thinner the next time. The pasta really soaked the thick sauce up.  Adding a little water to the can to release any tomato stuck to the bottom and sides after I dumped the tomatoes into the pot would have made the sauce just the right texture.  Also-the thickness of the tomato product you use makes a big difference in the end result too.  The tomatoes I used yesterday were very thick and even though the pan was covered and condensation dripped in from the glass cover, the sauce could have been a little thinner.  I thawed some marinara sauce that I had frozen and added a couple spoonfuls when I reheated a portion of this the next night-that was just the right balance, the pasta was perfectly coated. Store-bought sauce is thinner than homemade as a rule. Change number two-thinner marinara.


This is one absolutely delicious AND filling meal.  The tender, juicy chicken meatballs are packed with garlic and cheese flavor-just the way we like them-and were made even more tasty with the homemade marinara sauce and melted cheese. I picked a few basil leaves from my garden, thinly sliced them into basil "ribbons" and sprinkled over the top. That added a nice fresh flavor and complimented the sprinkle of Italian seasoning that went over the cheese.  

We had this 2 nights, then I froze the rest of it in a couple containers to have on hand to thaw and give me a night off from cooking dinner-just heat and serve.


Thank you so much, Karly, for sharing your fantastic recipe.  Do take some time to check out her wonderful blog-she's got some delicious dishes to tempt everyone's palate. If you love Chicken Parmesan and would like all those flavors in a one dish meal?  I hope you'll give this recipe a try. I made and photographed it during the summer months, but this is a SUPER "comfort food" casserole-I can't wait to make it again to have on a cold winter night. It's a winnah-winnah-ground chicken dinnah at this house. :)

Carol

CHICKEN PARMESAN MEATBALL CASSEROLE
(Source: adapted from Karly @ Buns In My Oven-original recipe found HERE)

NASHOBA TECH MARINARA SAUCE:*
(Source: adapted from Chef Steve Whiting, chef/instructor of Culinary Arts @ Nashoba Regional Technical High School)

2 Tbsp. olive oil 
4 cloves garlic, finely minced 
1 (28 oz.) can Pastene "Kitchen Ready" tomatoes OR 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes or tomato purée (I prefer using the "Kitchen Ready" tomatoes-I like the consistency of the sauce using them)
2 tsp. granulated sugar, or to taste (feel free to omit the sugar if you like)
A generous pinch of dried basil, OR fresh basil, chopped
A generous pinch of dried oregano
Chopped fresh parsley, to taste
Black pepper to taste
1/4 c. grated Romano OR Parmesan cheese

*NOTE: 1 (24 oz.) jar of marinara sauce can be substituted for homemade marinara sauce

MEATBALLS:
1 large egg
1 c. soft bread crumbs
1/4 c. milk
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. granulated garlic 
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. ground chicken

CASSEROLE:
1 lb. cavatappi (or any small pasta such as gemelli, penne, ziti rigati)
2-3 c. (8-12 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese (much better to buy a block and shred it yourself-the cheese is much creamier than the pre-shredded one. If using pre-shredded cheese, you'll definitely need 3 cups.  If you shred the cheese yourself, 2 cups will probably be plenty), divided
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, divided

2-3 large basil leaves, rolled then cut into thin "ribbons" for sprinkling over top, optional 


For the marinara sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 

Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, parsley, pepper and cheese; cover and simmer over very low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

For the meatballs, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, bread crumbs, milk, chopped parsley, minced garlic, onion powder, granulated garlic, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Stir until well mixed.  Add the chicken and mix gently until all the ingredients are well combined. 

Form the meatball mixture into (44) 1" meatballs.  I use my small Pampered Chef cookie scoop for this-it makes the perfect size meatball with very little rolling.  Also, the chicken mixture is very moist so dampening your hands will make it easier to roll the meat and not have it stick to your hands. 

Place the meatballs on a broiler pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray OR on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake @ 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and no longer pink in the center.  An instant read thermometer should read 165 degrees.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place the meatballs in a bowl and stir in some of the marinara sauce-just enough to coat the meatballs. Set the bowl aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt to the water then stir in the  pasta. Cook for 1 minute less than the instructions on the package suggest. Drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot. Add the remaining marinara sauce to the pasta and stir until the pasta is evenly coated with sauce.

Place half of the pasta in a 13x9-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Top the pasta with 22 meatballs, evenly spaced over top.  Sprinkle the meatballs and pasta with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and 1/2 tsp. of the Italian seasoning. Top with the remaining pasta and the rest of the meatballs. Scrape any marinara sauce that is in the bottom of the bowl out and drop it onto the pasta and meatballs. Spread the remaining 1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese over top, then sprinkle the cheese with 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning.

Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet larger than the baking pan just in case something bubbles over.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until everything is heated through and the cheese is melted.

Sprinkle the basil "ribbons" over the top of the casserole, if desired.  Serve immediately.  8 servings.

Featured 2/3/16 Showcase Your Talent

Featured 2/6/16  Life On Lakeshore Drive

Featured 2/6/16 Snickerdoodle Sunday

Featured 2/10/16 Buns in my oven



59 comments:

  1. Carol= This sure does look good. I don't use ground turkey or chicken but I am going to have to try this. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Linda- If you come on , can I get your email address? thanks Elaine/weebill from the TOH board

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Elaine-I hope you enjoy it.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  2. I'd forgotten about this recipe. geez, I've already had breakfast but i'd wouldn't mind a bite right now. Thanks for the yummy reminder. still cold here and this would be a perfect dinner. Thanks Carol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I'm sure you recognize a lot of the stuff I post. :) This is definitely a good one. It's been a while since I've made it-I need to make it again.

      Delete
    2. everything you've posted looks great. I know because I've many many of them. we need to do another coast to coast recipe.

      Delete
    3. made. geez and i'm on my computer, not my phone

      Delete
  3. OMGoodness Carol, I am sitting here reading this recipe, looking at the pictures and I am drooling and so hungry. I have never made meatballs with chicken, but it sounds so good. I love pasta, and anything with cheese on top is my weakness. Thanks for this recipe, I must share it, and keep it handy to make when company comes. You should open your own Bistro.....you have such talent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Myra-this recipe is a great one for company. A lot of it can be done ahead of time-I always like that when guests are coming. And it makes a lot too. Perfect for entertaining. I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try. :)

      Delete
  4. Myra looks like we are both drooling. What a great Picture. Lets grab our forks and dig in. I will share with you. Carol what a great looking recipe. I am going to print this one out. When my Son comes home for a visit he will drool over it when I make it for him..I will give you the credit..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Dottiemaye-I hope you all love it as much as we do!

      Delete
  5. Hi Linda, this would be a super contribution to Food on Friday: Cheese over at Carole's Chatter. Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll pass this on to Linda, Carole......

      Delete
  6. This sounds so good! Thanks for sharing at My Flagstaff Home.

    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's delicious, Jennifer. We love it-hope you do too.

      Delete
  7. Yum, love me some meatballs, and yet I have never tried chicken before. Can hardly wait to try it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was my first try using chicken in meatballs....I was very happy with the end result. It's a fun twist on Chicken Parmesan that's for sure.

      Delete
  8. This is definitely going on the menu soon! I know our whole family will love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kathryn-I hope you and your family enjoy it! :)

      Delete
  9. This sounds absolutely delicious!

    Thanks for Sharing Your Cup!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a wonderful casserole....great to take to a pot luck too!

      Delete
  10. It sounds delicious! And, it's pretty! ;) I pinned this one to save, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the pin, Jennifer-enjoy! :)

      Delete
  11. Spotted this at Pieced Pastimes and had to come see more. A gorgeous dish, Carol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Robyn...it's a tummy pleaser for sure.

      Delete
  12. This looks simply DELISH! And I have all of this on hand so, even better! Thanks for sharing. Popping by from the SITS Sharefest :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't you love when you have everything in the kitchen for a new to you recipe? I sure do....I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we do if you decide to give it a try.

      Delete
  13. This is just the kind of casserole my family loves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine too, Barbara...although my son-in-law isn't a big fan of pasta...and he's Italian...what's up with that? :)

      Delete
  14. This looks so delicious and easy!! I can't wait to try it - sometimes I really want chicken parm, but it's such a process to make! Scheduled to pin and stumbling!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Morgan....this is a fun twist on Chicken Parm for sure-and a tasty one too! :)

      Delete
  15. Replies
    1. It's very easy and so good....hope you like it. :)

      Delete
  16. Your Chicken Parmesan Meatball Casserole looks delicious. Hope you are having a great day and thanks so much for sharing your awesome recipe with us at Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Miz Helen-have a great rest of the week. :)

      Delete
  17. Sounds yummy! I'm pinning and thanks for sharing.
    FABBY

    ReplyDelete
  18. This sounds SO delicious!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jess....I hope you enjoy it if you give it a go.

      Delete
  19. Pinning this! I have to try it out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the pin Suzie-enjoy! :)

      Delete
  20. Yum! This looks so delicious! Love the recipes you share and we appreciate that you take the time to link up and share them with us at Brag About It! Pinning :)
    ~Laurie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Laurie-it's a tummy pleaser that's for sure. :)

      Delete
  21. Wow, this looks DELICIOUS Carol! Thank you for sharing this recipe on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really good Jes. I haven't made it for a while-think I may be adding it to the rotation soon.

      Delete
  22. This looks easy and delicious! Thanks for sharing! #SmallVictories

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Danita-it's really easy and SO good!

      Delete
  23. Yummy, my boys love meatballs but I gave not ventured from beef. I bet they would love this. Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup. Pinned to our linkup board.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tanya-growing up in an Italian family, it was always beef meatballs and spaghetti at our house. Using ground chicken was a new twist for me and a delicious one. I hope you and your family enjoy this-and thanks so much for the pin. :)

      Delete
  24. You gotta love meatballs for a do ahead meal, eh Carol? Thanks for sharing at Five Star Frou-Frou this week! Love, Mimi xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with you Mimi-do ahead meals are THE BEST! :)

      Delete
  25. This looks and sounds so good.
    Thanks for sharing this at Cooking and Crafting with J&J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Julie...it's a mighty delicious dish for sure.

      Delete
  26. This casserole looks delicious! I'm going to make this soon. I've pinned and tweeted and I'll be featuring this at today's Snickerdoodle Sunday Party. Hope to see you there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Beverly-I hope you love it as much as we do. :)

      Carol

      Delete
  27. looks and sounds delish! I can't wait to give this recipe a try. I haven't had great luck with meatballs so this is the recipe to change that for me :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These meatballs are super easy and really tasty too. I hope you enjoy them!

      Delete
  28. Looks delicious very nice chicken parmesan meatball casserole. thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop. Pinning and tweeting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Swathi-and thank you for the pin and tweet. :)

      Delete