Monday, October 22, 2012

Mini Buffalo Chicken Balls with Blue Cheese Dip

I really love a good meatball so this recipe sounded really interesting to me.  Buffalo wings are awesome.  Meatballs are awesome.  Why wouldn't they be awesome together?  The problem with these meatballs is that they are lacking a key component to the buffalo wings - texture.  When you bite into a nice buffalo wing you have the crispy deep-fried skin with the moist chicken.  These meatballs have the right flavor.  And they are moist.  But they are one big ball of smush.  There was literally no texture to them.  I had hoped that the celery and the shallot would provide a little texture, but no such luck.  When I saw how wet and soft they were I decided to broil them for a few minutes at the end of the cooking process to try to get a crust to form on the exterior.  No dice.  The broiling did help to firm them up a little, but no crust formed because they were too wet.  The blue cheese dip was pretty chunky (which was a conscious decision on our part to provide texture).  I also ate my meatballs with celery sticks because I needed the crunch.  And I really enjoy the combination of buffalo wings, blue cheese and celery.  It works for me.  Alex took one bite of the celery and gave me the rest.  Sometimes it's not such a bad thing that Alex doesn't like celery.

Recipes after the jump!

Mini Buffalo Chicken Balls with Blue Cheese Dip
Adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook
By Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup hot sauce (we used Crystal)
1 pound ground chicken
1 large egg
1/2 celery stalk, minced
1 tbsp shallot, minced
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Drizzle the vegetable oil into a broiler-safe baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside. 
Combine the butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat, whisking until the butter is melted and fully incorporated.  Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.  Combine the hot sauce mixture, ground chicken, egg, celery, shallot bread crumbs, and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, 3/4 -inch balls, making sure to pack the meat firmly.  Place the balls in the prepared baking dish or baking sheet (the original recipe said that the meatballs should be lined up in rows and touching one another but depending on your baking dish that might not be an option).
Roast for 15 minutes.  Remove the meatballs from the oven and broil for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.  Serve with blue cheese dip and celery sticks.

Blue Cheese Dip

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese (or to taste)
1 tbsp red onion, finely minced
1/2 tbsp finely chopped celery leaves

Stir together the yogurt, blue cheese, onion, celery leaves, s&p in a bowl.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

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