Saucy Chicken and Arugula Meatballs

In Italy, meatballs are usually made with beef or veal, browned, simmered in a simple sauce, then served with bread and a green salad. These are made with chicken and arugula, a popular Italian combination, but not one generally used in meatballs. Making the meatballs small ensures that they cook quickly and that the sauce maintains its fresh taste.

Slideshow: Great Comfort Food Recipes

  • Servings: 4

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for sautéeing the meatballs
  • 3 thin slices pancetta or bacon (about 2 ounces), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large bunch arugula (about 6 ounces), stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
  • One 35-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes with juice, coarsely chopped in a food processor
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large nonreactive skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the arugula and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, bread crumbs, cheese, capers, egg, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Add the arugula mixture and beat until well blended. Roll the mixture by teaspoonfuls into 3/4-inch balls.

  3. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil. Add half of the meatballs in a single layer and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a large plate. Discard the fat and wipe out the skillet.

  4. In the same skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the Cognac, raise the heat to high and cook until evaporated. Add the tomatoes and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick, about 8 minutes.

  5. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer over low heat just until heated though, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead

The meatballs and sauce can be refrigerated separately for up to 1 day. Return both to room temperature before proceeding to Step 5.

Suggested Pairing

The capers and pancetta in this dish call for a meaty, acidic Italian Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese blend, such as Capezzana Carmignano or Castello dei Rampolla Sammarco.

Contributed By Published May 1997

502825 recipes/saucy-chicken-and-arugula-meatballs 2013-12-06T23:46:59+00:00 Erica De Mane spring|winter|american|italian|4|make-ahead|weeknight-dinner may-1997,erica de mane,italian-american recipes,chicken meatballs,fresh tomato sauce recipe,italian chicken recipes recipes,saucy-chicken-and-arugula-meatballs 502825

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