I have mixed feelings about one-subject cookbooks. On one hand, my practical brain says, “How many different excellent recipes can there possibly be for [fill in the blank]?”
On the other hand, a one-subject cookbook can spelunk very deeply, shedding light into otherwise dark crevices and can take a more exhaustive, rather than a superficial approach.
It is this latter description that defines the welcome new cookbook, “I Love Meatballs,” by Rick Rodgers (Andrews McMeel Publishing; $19.99). I needn’t have worried that it would be too much of a good thing, because veteran cookbook author Rodgers deliciously expands the meatball universe far beyond your wildest imagination.
- meatballs as starters (I want to try the Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki)
- meatballs in soup (how about that Meatball Chili Soup?)
- meatballs between bread (Turkey Meatball Subs with Cranberry-Chipotle Mayonnaise)
- saucy meatballs (Beef Meatball Bourguignon)
- meatballs on the grill (Grilled Cheese-Stuffed Meatball Sliders)
- meatballs and pasta (Spaghetti with Three-Meat Meatballs Bolognese)
What, no dessert meatballs? Just kidding.
He also doesn’t turn up his nose at store-bought meatballs, and helpfully suggests a variety of sauce recipes in the book that will elevate them. I have my eye on Spinach-Coriander Sauce and Caper Sauce, for starters.
This is a book for a meatball lover, or just a fan of delicious, slightly whimsical food. Those who think they are tepid about meatballs will have their inner fire ignited. I dare you to look at these gorgeous photos and remain in your chair.
Me? I got right into the kitchen and pulled out my package of ground chicken.
The Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs were so, so good, my husband sent me a text! It said, “Dinner was ShockD all the way!”
I took that as a sign. I bought more ground chicken the next day, and made more. Because they are poached in a gingery broth, they emerge very tender, with a bright ginger flavor sparked by the sauce. I didn’t have enough regular soy sauce to make his version of the sauce, so I improvised using what I had. I really like my version, which makes a slightly thick, syrupy drizzle that is the perfect foil for the chicken. Use whichever sauce version you like.
Just make these. And then wait for the texts to come in.
Recipe: Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs
Summary: A tender, Asian-inflected, flavorful chicken meatball poached in a gingery bath and drizzled with sweet and salty teriyaki. Sublime!
- 1 pound ground chicken
- ½ cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) (I was out, so I used regular fresh bread crumbs)
- 1 large egg
- 1 scallion, minced, plus more for garnish if desired
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon peeled and shredded fresh ginger (use large holes of a box grater)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 quarter-sized slices peeled fresh ginger, crushed under the flat side of a large knife, for the cooking liquid (see my note in recipe)
- Cooked rice, for serving
- 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2/3 cup soy sauce
- 2/3 cup mirin
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Bring the soy sauce, mirin, sugar and rice vinegar to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil until thickened and reduced to about 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour into a small bowl.
- To make the meatballs, combine the chicken, panko, egg, scallion, cornstarch, shredded ginger, soy sauce, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. I used my Kitchen-Aid mixer, on low, for 30 seconds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours.
- Bring 2 quarts water and the sliced ginger to a boil in a pot over high heat. I had no more fresh ginger after using it in the chicken balls, so I simply used 2 tablespoons dried ground ginger in place of the fresh, and dissolved it in the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium-low to keep at a simmer.
- Using your wet hands rinsed under cold water, shape the chicken mixture into 20 equal meatballs. Transfer to a baking sheet or plate. Carefully add the balls to the pot. They will likely sink, but will float to the top soon enough. Simmer until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
- While the balls are cooking, make the teriyaki sauce, using either version above.
- Using a wire spider or sieve, remove the meatballs from the cooking liquid. Drain briefly on paper towels. Spoon the rice into serving bowls. Top with the meatballs and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle with minced scallion and serve hot.
- Serves 4.
Make ahead: The second time I made them, I did them ahead of time and refrigerated the chicken balls. I reheated them in the microwave quickly, and it worked very well.
You can see my personal comments above in blue.
The publisher, Andrews McMeel, provided a review copy of the book.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Chilling time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Diet tags: High protein
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: Japanese-ish
If you need just one scallion, as you do in this recipe, here’s a suggestion for how to grow them easily on your kitchen window sill, which makes it simple to use one at a time.