I have a love-hate relationship with America’s Test Kitchen (and their related publications, Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country). I buy a LOT of their special interest publications. I like to read, and I enjoy reading recipes, and I like trying out new recipes. I like the pictures of each recipe and I like the all the notes that go along with each ATK recipe. I have made some good things from ATK recipes, but I’ve made some not so good, too. On the other hand, I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate that I cannot access any of the ATK recipes online without paying for them. The only way around this is to get the name of the recipe you are interested in and Google it, or look on foodgawker or TasteSpotting for a hit, then go to a food blog, similar to this one, to get the actual recipe. Compare this to Bon Appetit and Epicurious. I subscribe to Bon Appetit, but even if I didn’t I could access all of their recipes for free on the Epicurious website, most of which have some wonderfully helpful comments. I love being able to search Epicurious‘ recipe archives for any recipe they have published over the past years. I often find terrific recipes that way, searching on words such as “soup”, “blueberries” and “brownies” and then scrolling through all the recipes with that key word. I don’t know why America’s Test Kitchen cannot do the same 😛
Anyways…, enough of my rant and onto my latest America’s Test Kitchen find!
The original recipe (by the same name) was from one of America’s Test Kitchen 30-minute Meals cookbooks. The meatballs, although very simple with a very plain list of ingredients, are quite tasty and virtually perfect! I wanted to up the curry powder just a bit, but my offspring vetoed that idea, saying they were good just as they are, so I left the meatball recipe alone (but I did “heap” the 1 T. of curry powder!). I always make these meatballs with ground chicken, but I see no reason why ground turkey, ground beef, or ground lamb couldn’t be used. The 1 lb. of ground meat makes about 30-36 small meatballs.
I did change the pilaf recipe a quite bit, as ATK’s was much too bland. (Pilaf, by definition, contains rice cooked in broth, ATK version was cooked in water, and only got worse after that.) I substituted butter for vegetable oil, broth for the water and added a bit more variety, and taste, with additional veggies, herbs, and garnishes. I also added a bit of salt and spice…, and the magical touch, a bay leaf and a long piece of lemon peel (both of which are fished out before serving).
I didn’t think it was true, but it was! I was able to make this, from start to finish, in 30-minutes…, AND it was a mighty tasty, spur-of-the-moment dinner! Serve with a side of veggies, if you want, steamed broccoli would be good… 🙂
Curried Chicken Meatballs with Apricot Rice Pilaf
- 1 T butter (approx)
- ½ -1 cup finely chopped onion (your favorite variety)
- ½ -1 cup finely chopped mixed vegetables (celery, carrots, bell peppers…)
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 ¾ cups hot chicken broth (or water). OK to sub abut ¼ cup of liquid for ¼ cup white wine (another option: add one long strip of lemon, lime or orange peel-with no white pith attached, to the rice mixture when adding the liquid)
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ -1 teaspoon salt (if your broth is salted, you might not need to add too much additional salt)
- ½ – 1 cup chopped dried apricots or mixture of apricots and other dried fruits (raisins, cherries, cranberries)
- 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds or other nuts (pistachios, pine nuts, chopped pecans)
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro, parsley, basil, green onion, frozen peas, sautéed mushrooms or mint for last minute stir-in and garnish (choose one, maybe two…or three)
- 1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
- ½ cup very finely minced raw onion (grated onion works well, too)
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (maybe a bit more…)
- 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
From start to finish: about 30 minutes
- In large saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add chopped onions and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add rice and cook until mostly opaque, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in choice of mixed veggies
- Add broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. When cooked, remove from heat and let rice stand and steam until needed.
- Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine chicken, onions, panko, cilantro, curry powder, salt and pepper. Mix with fork until well blended. Don’t overwork the meat mixture.
- Using wet hands (or a small scoop), shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs. (Depending on size, of course, makes about 30-36 meatballs)
- Heat a bit of oil in a large frying pan until hot.
- Add meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes, shaking pan as needed.
- Cover the pan and steam meatballs over medium heat for an additional 5 minutes.
- Now turn your attention back to the rice. Take lid off the pan and gently fluff rice with a fork. Pick out the bay leaves and the optional lemon or orange peel.
- Add apricots/dried fruit mixture, toasted almonds/nuts and choice of stir ins to rice (reserve about 1 tablespoon, each, of nuts and green stir-ins). Stir to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients.
- Transfer pilaf to a serving platter, top pilaf with hot, browned meatballs, and then sprinkle the reserved 1 T. of nuts and cilantro, parsley, mint or green onion over the top. Add a serving spoon and . . . .
- Dinner is ready! YUM!
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today 🙂 I hope that you make and enjoy these and I hope they become a family favorite, as they have in my house!