Tagliatelle with chicken meatballs

This started off being one thing then turned into something else and then finally ended up as pasta with meatballs. I originally planned to make chicken cacciatore tonight, which I wanted to serve with celeriac mash. However, I could not find any chicken thighs in the supermarket, and chicken breasts are not quite flavoursome enough for chicken cacciatore, I think. So I bought 4 chicken breasts and decided to finely mince them myself to make chicken meatballs. The plan was then to make ‘chicken meatball cacciatore’. By the time I started making the sauce though I was bored and just threw together the ingredients and simmered for an hour and then thought it was back to the drawing board and it would just be a super simple chicken meatball pasta dish. So the ingredients essentially stayed the same, but the emphasis changed.

Meatballs;
4 chicken breasts
spring onions
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs
breadcrumbs.

Finely dice the chicken breasts, and add egg and herbs. Run the mixture through a blender, but do not blend too smoothly. There should be a bit of texture. Add breadcrumbs and then mix with your hands, rolling the mixture into small balls. Set aside and chill so the balls firm up.

Sauce;
1 small onion finely diced
1 stick celery finely diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 pack of passata (I used the 500g Morrisons own pack)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 cup red wine
chicken stock mixed in 1 cup boiling water (I swear by the Knorr’s jelly stocks)

Sautee the garlic, celery and onion in olive oil to which a little bit of butter has been added. When translucent, add chicken stock, passate and red wine. Add more mixed herbs to taste, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Then turn heat off and leave until time to cook.

Take the chicken balls out of the fridge and brown in a shallow pan. I browned for about 1 minute on each side. Then throw the balls into the pan with the sauce in it, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Do check the balls though- you do not want raw chicken meat in the middle. I always think it is the cook’s reward to have a sneaky taste test.

Cook the tagliatelle according to packet instructions. Remove the cooked balls, mix sauce and the tagliatelle, serve and place meatballs artistically on top.

We loved this. It was a rustic, no frills dish. Not a dinner party dish as chicken cacciatore may be, but a solid, nourishing, tasty, no-nonsense family meal.

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