Meatballs with tomato and garlic sauce – Chiftele marinate
Oh, how I love meatballs with tomato sauce! My grandmother used to make these all the time when I was a kid, but she always prepared them with pork or veal meat. Since I don’t enjoy eating pork THAT much, even if it’s common for Romanians to do so, I used plain chicken breast for these meatballs. Don’t worry, they don’t taste bland at all, thanks to the addition of a few ingredients that I personally added to this recipe.
My grandma loved to make all sorts of meat-based dishes. I remember that when she cooked meatballs, they were as big as half of my palm! Her meatballs were always moist and delicious, probably because of the fatty meat she used. I loved them! They were so, so good, and I always ate them with a side of mashed potatoes.
One day, I’ll try her recipe, post it on the blog, and you’ll get to see on your own how amazing they are. As for today, I wanted to make a lighter version of meatballs with tomato and garlic sauce. The meatballs are bite-sized, and you can choose to serve them with various side dishes: mashed potatoes, pasta with a bit of butter and pepper, couscous, or with a colorful salad. If you don’t want to fry the meatballs, you can cook them in the oven at 180°C (360°F) until they are golden brown, and then transfer them to the saucepan. They will taste just as delicious as the fried ones, I promise!
Well, maybe you are wondering what’s my secret ingredient for an extra-yummy portion of chicken meatballs with tomato and garlic sauce. I always add half of a small, finely shredded potato to the meat mixture. The potato gives extra flavor to the chicken meat, and if you add a small, finely shredded onion, the meatballs will be divine, even if you use plain chicken breast, with no addition of fat.
Don’t forget to add your favorite spices: I prefer to use salt, pepper, and a little bit of dried garlic powder. You can also add dried oregano, dried basil, or chopped, fresh parsley or fresh dill.
The meatballs are ready in less than 30 minutes, and if you boil some pasta or prepare some mashed potatoes in the meantime, you’ll have a great lunch or dinner in less than an hour.
500 g (18 oz.) minced chicken breast
½ small onion
½ small potato
1 medium egg
500 ml (2 ¼ cup) oil
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
500 ml (2 cups) tomato juice
250 ml (1 cup) water
45 ml (3 tablespoons) sunflower oil
4-5 cloves garlic
5 g (1 teaspoon) sugar
½ bunch fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a bowl, mix the minced chicken breast meat with the egg, half an onion – finely chopped, half a potato – finely shredded, salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder. You can add one tablespoon of breadcrumbs if your mixture is too liquid.
- Wet your palms and form small, bite-sized balls.
- Pour the sunflower oil into a frying pan, and wait until it gets hot. Drop the meatballs in the oil, one by one, and let them fry until they are golden brown.
- Take the meatballs out of the pan, and put them in a bowl with absorbent paper, to remove the excess oil.
- In another pan (or the same pan, but cleaned and dried), add the sunflower oil, and fry the chopped onion until it’s translucent.
- Add the tomato juice, the garlic, the water and the sugar, and let them simmer on medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. The sugar gives a bit of sweetness to the sauce, and reduces the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Add the fried meatballs, salt and pepper to taste, stir a few times and keep simmering for a few more minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced.
- Turn off the heat and add some chopped parsley on top. Serve and enjoy.