This is yet another awesome recipe I found on Epicurious. Both Joe and I absolutely loved these meatballs. Soaking the bread in the milk kept the meatballs unbelievably moist, and the pancetta provided such a nice saltiness. The peperonata was delicious in its own right, too, a nice balance of salty and tangy and sweet, and it was the perfect pairing for the meatballs. I'm not going to lie, the pasta that we served this over? It's Pasta-Roni's butter and garlic flavored angel hair pasta. But it was absolutely delicious with this, and I do think this meal needed some kind of pasta to round it out. (And no, no one paid me for that plug; we just happen to be gluttons for Pasta-Roni.)
This took quite a bit of prep time, but it was definitely worth it. This was a flavorful, satisfying supper, and it will be going into our regular rotation for sure. I made the full recipe, and the leftovers were delicious piled on a sandwich for lunch the next day.
Baked Chicken Meatballs with Peperonata
For the peperonata:
3 red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
For the meatballs:
3 slices Italian bread, torn into pieces (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 egg
1 pound ground chicken
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds.
2. Toss bell peppers with 1 tablespoon oil, then roast in a 4-sided sheet pan in lower third of oven, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 35 minutes.
3. Stir together capers, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl and set aside.
4. While peppers roast, soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about 4 minutes.
5. Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.
6. Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, pancetta mixture, bread, and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in another 4-sided sheet pan.
7. Stir together tomato paste and remaining tablespoon oil and brush over meatballs, then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
8. Toss bell peppers with caper mixture. Serve meatballs with peperonata.