Lightening Up

I am not an anti-beef person. In fact, I love beef and pork almost as much as I love fish and seafood. But lately I've been gravitating toward lighter meals and have replaced pasta with spaghetti squash, and ground beef with chicken that I pulse through the processor. I still eat the occasional slab of bacon, but these days I am likely to purchase it straight from the farmer sans nitrates.

Chicken-balls can be dry, so I add plenty of seasoning and a bit of fat while chicken burgers benefit from a good handful of fresh herbs. Another neat trick (borrowed from ancient community cookbooks) add mashed potatoes or other vegetables to not only extend the protein but keep it moist.

Chicken Swedish Meatballs
Makes 2 1/2 dozen meatballs
1 cup mashed/riced potato
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/4 cup half & half
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
Butter and oil for cooking

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In large mixing bowl combine well potato, Panko, eggs, half & half, mustard, sugar, Worcestershire, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, and salt and pepper.

In food processor puree onion and garlic. Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces and add half to processor. Pulse a few times until chicken is just ground (do not over process). Add chicken and onion/garlic to mixing bowl and process the remaining chicken in same manner. Add second batch to mixing bowl.

Use spatula to gently fold all ingredients together; chill half an hour. Use very small ice cream scoop to form 2 tablespoon-sized balls. In two large baking dishes or frying pans, melt equal parts butter in vegetable oil (about 1 tablespoon each in each dish/pan) in oven. Place balls in baking dishes and return to oven. Cook until done, occasionally turning balls to brown evenly; about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with lingonberries, potatoes, and quick-pickled cucumbers. For a light sauce, reduce by half 2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 cup wine, and 1/4 cup 1-2-3 pickling liquid or few tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Remove from heat and whisk in a few tablespoon cold butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 


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