Date Night Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Creamy Polenta
Homemade chicken parmesan meatballs that are simmered in quick tomato sauce. I love serving this over a bowl of creamy parmesan polenta but it would be equally delicious over spaghetti!
Hello to love!
Good news, friends! I’ve got a bowl of over-the-top-warm-and-creamy polenta with parmesan meatballs. But before we go judging meatballs, let me say they are chicken parmesan meatballs in a homemade tomato sauce. The sauce is garlicky, herby and bright with all that tomato goodness.
This just can’t be beat! You know that saying. The one about the way to a mans heart.. yada yada. Friends, I ask you, isn’t that the truth about all of our hearts, regardless of gender? I don’t now about this ‘man business’ but what I do know is if you cook me a bowl of comfort food, you’re winning some major points.
I’ve been feeling a little skittish being back in the kitchen after what seems like an eternity and thought why not make something a little more romantic yet easily achievable for date night in. With Valentines day just around the corner, why not make romantic comfort food?
That’s what chicken parmesan meatballs are. Romantic comfort food. Is that a food category yet? Because isn’t that what a cooking is all about.
I know, you’re thinking, how do meatballs in tomato sauce equate to date night food?
It’s simple. It’s about the way garlic sizzles as it hits the olive oil or the way homemade marinara makes the whole house smell like heaven or probably how you can almost taste the cheesy polenta as you stir in that hot, melted butter.
And more likely, my love of cooking succumbs me and I melt at the thought of chicken, parmesan, and homemade sauce all served up on a bed of golden polenta. It’s winter comfort food meets love, all wrapped up in a neat little package that’s not only stunning to look at visually but also tastes like you’ve ordered in from a fancy restaurant.
This chicken parm dinner is simple enough for one to handle of course, but it’s more fun when you’ve got two in the kitchen. Not only does it mean that dinner takes half as long to make it’s also just nice to unplug from everything, peel an onion and smash some garlic together. Creating a meal together from scratch is just so satisfying.
This, like most of my meatballs in sauce recipes, is easy breezy to pull together. It starts with your basic ingredients, bread crumbs, ground chicken (or turkey), but then we take it up a few levels and grate in our garlic and season it with things like italian seasoning, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. We’re bringing our chicken parmesan A game and you better be ready for it!
The homemade tomato sauce is just the way I always make it with one new addition: crumbled fennel seeds. Because until 5 minutes ago, I so did not know how well a little fennel goes with poultry and more importantly, tomato sauce. This is my go to sauce forever and always. Stop now, scroll to the bottom and hit the print button because if there’s only one thing you ever make from my blog, please let it be this tomato sauce. And then use it to smother everything you make from here until the end of time and you’ll forever be blessed with good [comfort] food.
Winter is my food season. I become this crazy comfort food ninja warrior when the weather gets cold (HA.. Houston. Cold?). I’ve only got like 100 other comfort food recipes that are bouncing around in my head: taiwanese beef noodle soup, chicken tikka masala, citrus olive oil cake, massaman curry, and like 96 other flavor packed recipes that i’m going to squeeze into our food calendar before the clock strikes Spring.
But for now, let’s sit back, grab a plate of chicken parmesan meatballs and really enjoy each others company and good Italian inspired chicken meatballs braised in homemade marinara sauce.
May all your meatballs be perfectly tender and your polenta extra rich and creamy!!
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 3 clove garlic, grated
- ½ teaspoon EACH: Italian seasoning AND onion powder
- pinch of red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon EACH: salt and pepper
- 1 - 1 ¼ pounds ground chicken (or turkey)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Homemade Tomato Sauce:
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoons basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
- 6 cups cooking liquid (broth, water, milk, or cream - see notes)
- 1 cup polenta or coarse ground cornmeal
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 1 tablespoon butter
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients except the ground chicken until it resembles a coarse breading. Add the ground chicken and mix until *just* combined. Do not overwork the meat. Roll into desired size balls. Mine were about 1 ½ tablespoons each.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the skillet but do not overcrowd the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes flipping as needed to brown all sides. Remember you want to just brown the outside, not cook all the way through. Remove meatballs to a plate.
- To the remaining oil, add the minced garlic and continuously stir to cook for 30 seconds. Add the onions and let them sweat, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomato, red pepper flakes, water, pesto, and fennel seeds along with ½ teaspoon salt. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer, add the meatballs back in, cover with sauce. Cover the skillet with a lid and reduce heat to low. Allow sauce to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the meatballs cook all the way through.
- While the meatballs are braising in the sauce, heat the cooking liquids in a large pot until boiling. Reduce the heat to medium low, continuously whisk as you add in the polenta. Cover and let cook on low for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. When the polenta is done, turn the heat off, stir in the parmesan and butter. Keep in mind the polenta will continue to thicken as it sits, you may need additional broth/milk to thin it back to your desired consistency. Serve topped with chicken parmesan meatballs. Top with fresh basil, parsley, and parmesan cheese if desired.
- I used 4 cups chicken broth + 1 ½ cups milk + ½ cup heavy cream for my polenta. You can use up to 3 cups of dairy when making polenta. Water can also be used in place of broth but I find the flavor isn't as delicious as it is with chicken or vegetable broth!
Is this a good choice for you?
based on 6 servings