Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chicken Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

We usually have rice along with some dishes for dinner during the weeknights, so usually for our weekend night dinner, I would try to cook one-pot meal, or other dishes other than rice. I've made this Chicken Meatballs in Tomato Sauce for our dinner last Sunday. Originally, this recipe, taken from Nigella Kitchen, uses ground turkey, an ingredient which I have not seen over here. I find it strange that ground turkey are not sold in supermarkets over here in Malaysia. Even the frozen stuffed turkey are only available during the festive Christmas season. Due to unavailability of ground turkey, I have substitute with ground chicken meat.

Recipe calls for 1 stalk of celery to be blended with an onion. I have however used two stalks of celery and two onions. And since I have a balance of 2 stalks of celery and 2 large ripe tomatoes, I have chopped them up to small cubes and added to the sauce. Also I wanted to clear my freezer, so I have added in 1/4 cup of frozen tomato paste as well! The chicken meatballs are a mixture of an egg, breadcrumbs, grated cheese (I use Cheddar), chopped onion and celery, Worcestershire sauce and dried thyme with salt to taste.  With all my additions to the recipe, somehow I'm sure Nigella would smile with a nod of approval!

Of course with all my additions, I've got to season the sauce with more sugar, salt and pepper, adjust to your own preference.

I served the meatballs and sauce over spaghetti. The chicken meatballs are tender and very tasty. A very nice dish that the kids enjoy!

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
(adapted from "Nigella Kitchen", Nigella Lawson)
for the sauce :
1 onion, peeled (I use 2)
1 celery stalk (I use 2)
2 tablespoons garlic flavoured oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2x14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, plus
approx. 3-1/3 cups (2 full cans) water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
pepper to taste
2 celery stalk, chopped to small cubes (my addition)
2 large tomatoes, chopped (my addition)
1/4 cup tomato paste (my addition)

for the meatballs :
1 pound ground turkey
1 egg
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (I use Cheddar cheese)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion and celery (from the tomato sauce ingredients)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (such as Lea & Perrins)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Put the peeled onion and the celery into a food processor and blitz to a mush. Or you can chop as finely as humanly possible by hand. Reserve 2 tablespoons for the meatball mixture.

Warm the garlic flavoured oil in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, add the onion and celery mixture, along with the thyme, and cook at moderate to low heat, stirring every now and again, for about 10 minutes.

Add the can of tomatoes, filling up each empty can with water to add to the pan. (Add in the chopped celery cubes if using). Season with the sugar, salt and pepper, stir and let it come to a bubble, then turn the heat down to simmer gently while you get on with the meatballs.

Put all the ingredients for the meatballs, including the reserved chopped onion and celery, and salt according to preference, into a large bowl and mix together, gently, with your hands, wearing disposable vinyl gloves if you feel so inclined. Don't overmix, as that will make the meatballs dense-textured and heavy.

When all the meatball ingredients are just amalgamated, start rolling. The easiest way is to pinch out an amount about the size of a generously heaped teaspoon and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Put the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, as you go. You should get about 50 little meatballs.
(Easiest method for me : I just use a measuring teaspoon and another teaspoon, scoop a heaped teaspoon of the meatball mixture using the measuring teaspoon and shape into a round using the other teaspoon, drop the meatball directly into the simmering sauce. These are quickly done in minutes) 

Drop these gently into the simmering sauce; I try to let these fall in concentric circles, working round the pan from the outside edge inwards, in the vaguest of fashions.

Let the meatball simmer for 30 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with rice or pasta, or however you so please. 


I'm linking this post to Cook Like A Star, where the featured chef for this month is NIGELLA LAWSON. Cook Like A Star is an event organized by Zoe from Bake For Happy Kids, and the co-hosts for this month are Anuja from Simple Baking and me, Joyce from Kitchen Flavours. Cook or bake any of Nigella Lawson's recipes and link your posts to any of the hosts' linky which will stay open for the whole month of August. All submissions to this event must be current posts, published within the current month of this event, any older posts will be deleted. Please mention and link Cook Like A Star somewhere in your post. Do join us, everyone is welcome!

Cook Like A Star featuring Nigella Lawson, from 1st August to 31st August 2013

See Ya In The Gumbo hosted by Ms. enPlace


  1. This does look delicious! And it is strange that you can't find ground turkey...but I'm sure chicken is just as delicious! Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  2. What a delicious pasta meal! Love chicken meatballs.

  3. Love your pasta dish, healthy and delicious!

  4. Joyce, if Nigella tasted your meatballs, I am sure you would get her nod of approval too! Sure looks delicious, I am bookmarking to try it!

  5. My children will definitely love this pasta dish!

  6. Hi, Joyce. You make the meatball with ground turkey. It must be so yummy. By the way, may I know where to buy the mince turkey?

    1. Hi Jozelyn,
      I used ground chicken instead of turkey! Cannot find ground turkey over here!

  7. ivy sew http://simplybeautifulhealthyliving.blogspot.comTuesday, August 13, 2013

    Hi Joyce, just the tomato sauce itself is already so tempting and it goes well with the turkey meatballs!

  8. Oh Joyce, I've brought my own bowl over here, hehehe! I think your decision to go for chicken is great! By the way, is't turkey more tough to eat?

  9. hi this is ramya and blogging in LemonKurry.nice collection of recipes here.happy to follow you.

  10. THese looks delicious! You can really cook so many dishes every day, I am so envious! I can barely keep up just with baking lol!

  11. This looks like a perfect family meal. I don't think I've ever seen ground chicken or turkey in our supermarkets so will have to have a closer next time I go shopping.

  12. my kids love meatballs and i have never done it with chicken before- i need to try it

  13. Incredible and terrific chicken meatballs,cant resist.

  14. Hi Joyce , chicken is plentiful , this dish will be our Sunday dinner . Thanks for sharing :).

  15. Hi Joyce,

    I have tried using minced turkey to make meatballs and sausage rolls before and my husband will give me rolled eyes!!! - LOL! He thinks that turkey is too tough for his liking and prefer chicken but I always ignore him and try to explore new ingredients and recipes - LOL!

    Now, I know this recipe will work very well with chicken... I will please him if I'm cooking this recipe :p


  16. I loveeee pasta and this looks absolutely delicious! I have been trying to get my son to enjoy pasta just as much as I do ! I think I will give this a go. Ground chicken sounds like it would also be much lighter than using pork or beef

  17. Hi Joyce! Turkey is also rarely available here in Singapore, I think I'll only see it during Thanksgiving and Christimas?? Haha. This pasta dish looks very delicious! I love using ground chicken in meatballs, give a much lighter texture than beef, also meaning I can eat more haha!

  18. I'd love to try these meatballs with chicken or turkey...they look fantastic...especially with your lovely tomato sauce!

  19. We have a family tradition that my son picks what we have for supper on his first day of school. He usually wants meatballs and spaghetti. I'm hoping that's what he chooses this year so I can make this version! Thank you for linking.

  20. never seen ground turkey too ...i probably will enjoy more using ground chicken and i'm sure nigella lawson will approve of the little changes you made! delicious looking!

  21. Hi Joyce, I also bookmarked this recipe. Of course nigella would approve your adapted version. They look so yummy with the pasta.

  22. Joyce , this pasta looks hearty and delicious ! You can even use these chicken meatballs as a sandwich filling ;D