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More Meatballs, But Chicken This Time

(post, Kathleen Bauer)

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A previous post on meatballs began with an ageless ditty. This one starts with more plebeian concerns, in other words, "What's for dinner?"

Uninspired described it perfectly. It was one of those nights when it was little muggy and sticky (I can hear you Midwesterners snickering, you know) for spring in Oregon, and nothing was sounding particularly tasty in the dinner department.

But I had to go to the store anyway, and I remembered a recipe for chicken meatballs by Pete Wells in the last New York Times Sunday Magazine that looked easy. It would be lighter than beef, and we had most of the rest of the ingredients, though it called for dipping them in lime raita, not so Dave-friendly. Then I recalled that my brother had recently posted a recipe for remoulade sauce that he was touting as better than tartar sauce. So, since I'm always open to putting more mayo in our diets, I thought I'd give it a try.

Oh, and the meatball recipe says it serves four, but it barely covered the three of us for dinner, which included a hearty beet and green salad. (So four babies, maybe, Mr. Wells, but not four hungry adults.) It would also make a great small app for a dinner party, and we may pull it out for the back yard this summer.

Chicken Meatballs with Chives and a Spicy Remoulade
Meatball recipe adapted from Pete Wells of the New York Times. Remoulade from "Fish Without a Doubt" by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore.

For the remoulade:
1 c. mayonnaise
3 anchovy fillets
2 Tbsp. minced cornichons
1 Tbsp. nonpareil capers
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
6 dashes Tabasco
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or chervil
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. or more harissa
Coarse salt or freshly ground pepper

For the meatballs:
1/2 c. (about 1 slice) white bread, crust removed
2-4 Tbsp. milk
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tbsp. minced chives
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon, basil and mint, or other mixed herbs
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. seeded and minced fresh serrano chilies or other hot peppers
Olive oil

For the remoulade: Whisk the mayonnaise, anchovies, cornichons, capers, lemon zest and juice, mustard, Tabasco, parsley or chervil, dill, and harissa together in a bowl. Taste, and adjust the harissa for spiciness (I doubled it - KAB), keeping in mind that the heat will develop as the sauce sits. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. The remoulade will keep for at least a week. (I'll double it next time to have some left over - KAB)

For the meatballs: Cover the bread with as much of the milk as it will absorb. Let it soak while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Squeeze the bread to wring out the milk, then drop it into a mixing bowl. Mash it thoroughly with a fork and add the chicken, chives, herbs, salt, pepper and chilies, if using. Mash and mix it all together with the fork. Wet your hands and roll meatballs, about an inch across, and fry them, turning every few minutes to brown the entire surface, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and serve with the remoulade.

Chicken meatballs photo by Tony Cenicola for The New York Times.