In the 1979 film “Meatballs,” Bill Murray plays a wacky camp counselor who leads a ragtag band of misfit campers on a series of zany adventures. This is not their story.
It is, however, a meatball story. As in, chunks of meat formed into roughly ball-like shapes and cooked in some way. Our always-helpful friends at Wikipedia tell me that meatballs were invented by the Chinese (naturally; they invented everything) and date back to the Quin Dynasty (221 BC – 207 BC).
Wikipedia also lists 22 European variations on the meatball, four from the Americas, four from the Middle East and five from the East and SE Asia. Apparently they don’t eat meatballs in Africa?
Given their ubiquity across most of the world, it’s surprising that I have had only a passing acquaintance with this particular edible. As a child my only exposure to meatballs was in Chef Boyardee’s Spaghettios; these meatballs were about the same size as a rubber Super Ball and roughly the same consistency. I loved them intensely. (But don’t get me started on Spaghettios with Sliced Franks – an abomination!)
Some time later I was introduced to cocktail meatballs, ping-pong-ball-sized spheres made in a crockpot with a jar each of chili sauce and grape jelly. I assumed this was the ultimate expression of meatballdom. Like David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, the chili/grape cocktail meatball was surely the Platonic Ideal Form of its species.
Then a few years ago my niece, a gifted chef, had a recipe published in a magazine. It was a single meatball, big as a teacup poodle. What’s this? Is it possible there is a wider diversity of meatballs than I imagined? Yes.
I recently discovered a quite delicious recipe for cocktail meatballs that are highly exotic in the sense that they aren’t made of hamburger and don’t swim in tasty chili/jelly sauce. Madness, you say! If you doubt me, try them yourself. As usual, I’ve morphed the original recipe into something slightly different by using my inventory of Tastefully Simple products.
Cheesy Chicken Pizza Bites
1 lb. ground chicken
1 T Tastefully Simple Pizzeria Seasoning
¼ cup Tastefully Simple Crunchy Sesame Pretzel Breading
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
Sriracha Ranch Dip Mix, prepared, for dipping (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine ground chicken, Pizzeria Seasoning, Crunchy Sesame Pretzel Breading and half the cheese until well combined.
Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Bake 15 minutes; top with remaining cheese and bake another 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.
Serve warm with Sriracha Ranch Dip Mix or your favorite dip.
IDEA: It occurs to me that you might take these little fellas right over the top by wrapping each one in a little piece of bacon, secured with a toothpick, before baking.