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Lemony Chicken Meatballs with Cumin & Parsley

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Serves four.

These slightly spicy meatballs, paired with a tangy olive sauce, are great served on couscous.

For the meatballs:
  • 1/3 cup soft, coarse fresh breadcrumbs (don’t use crusts)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb. freshly ground lean chicken (light and dark meat) or ground turkey breast
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2/3 cup minced onion, sautéed in 2 Tbs. olive oil until translucent; half reserved for the topping
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. butter
For the topping:
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup minced, well-drained pitted green olives
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Make the meatballs:

In a large bowl, soak the breadcrumbs in the lemon juice until plumped and the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add the ground chicken or turkey, salt, paprika, cumin, pepper flakes, parsley, and half of the sautéed onions, along with the oil in the pan. Mix gently but thoroughly. Shape into 1-1/2-inch meatballs; you should end up with 20. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the meatballs (take care not to crowd the pan) and cook, turning gently, until browned on 2 or 3 sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to warm serving plates.

Make the topping:

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining sautéed onions, the paprika, and the cumin; cook over medium heat until warmed through. Stir in the olives and lemon juice; cook, stirring, until just heated through. Spoon the topping over the meatballs.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 450; Fat (g): 37; Fat Calories (kcal): 330; Saturated Fat (g): 12; Protein (g): 21; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 18; Carbohydrates (g): 10; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4; Sodium (mg): 850; Cholesterol (mg): 120; Fiber (g): 2;

Photo: Amy Albert

I found the meatballs to be a bit heavy on the paprika side but this may be because I was using Vera paprika from Spain (where I live), and it is quite strong. However, I took them to a potluck and they were a great hit. The sauce was a nice touch.

I'm a personal chef and make these for my clients. They find them "amazing" and they freeze great!

Nice recipe, but probably not special enough to make again.

We used ground turkey for the meatballs and they were really yummy. For the topping, rather than start with a fresh 2 tbsp. of butter, we used the oil and meat scrapings from the meatball pan and added any necessary, additional butter; it worked out perfectly. We love spicy, hence we used 1/2 a tsp. of red pepper flakes and will probably add more next time. The lemon was just enough to round out the flavors.

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