These chicken sage meatballs are pure comfort food. They’re packed with herby goodness and served over creamy parmesan risoni. Risoni is called orzo in every country except Australia! It is exactly the same thing — small, rice-shaped pieces of dry pasta.
Why You’ll Love Chicken Sage Meatballs
As the days get shorter and the evenings cooler, we tend to reach for richer foods. These meatballs make a warm, nourishing meal on a cold day. This recipe is made with everyday ingredients that you’ll find at the supermarket. It’s quick and easy enough to pull together on a weeknight, and delicious enough to serve to guests.
Tips and Swaps
- For the breadcrumbs, we used sourdough bread with the crusts removed. You can use any good quality bread. The bread can be very fresh or a couple of days old.
- Avoid using minced chicken breast as it tends to be dry and a bit flavourless.
- If you can’t find shallots, you can substitute the shallot with half an onion, very finely diced.
- You can leave out the cayenne pepper if you or your family are sensitive to spice. On the other hand, if you like it spicy you can add more cayenne pepper and or dry chilli flakes.
- We used risoni for this recipe, but you could use arborio rice instead.
- You can swap the spinach for silverbeet (chard), kale, or finely sliced cavalo nero. All of these will take slightly longer to cook than spinach, so add them 2 or 3 minutes earlier.
- If you’re looking for a dessert to pair with this dish, lean towards something fresh and fruity. Our raspberry sorbet is simple to make, and pairs perfectly with rich food.
Chicken Sage Meatballs with Creamy Risoni (orzo)
For the Chicken Sage Meatballs
- 60 g fresh breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 TBS butter
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1 shallot finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 500 g free-range chicken mince
- 2 TBS parsley finely chopped, plus extra to serve
- 2 TBS fresh sage finely chopped
- ½ tsp cooking salt
- Olive oil for searing.
For the Risoni (orzo)
- 2 TBS butter
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 cup risoni/orzo
- 1 cup dry white wine or dry rosé
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ⅓ cup cream
- 2 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup parmesan finely grated, plus extra to serve
- salt & pepper
For the Chicken Sage Meatballs
- Preheat oven to 200°c. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Mix breadcrumbs and milk in a large mixing bowl and set aside for 5 minutes
- Heat butter and oil in a frying pan. When the butter stops sizzling, add the diced shallot and garlic. Cook over medium heat for a minute or two until soft and fragrant. Stir in the garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Remove from heat.
- Add the chicken mince, parsley, sage, and salt to the bowl of soaked bread. Add the cooked shallot and garlic mixture, and wipe out the frying pan. Mix the meatball ingredients with your hands until well combined, and shape into golfball-size balls.
- Pour a thin layer of olive oil into the frying pan and heat to medium-high. Sear the meatballs in batches, about 9 at a time, placing them on the paper-lined oven tray as you go. Don't overcrowd the pan, or else the meatballs will stew and won't brown.
- When all the meatballs are golden brown, bake them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cut one ball in half to check that they are cooked through the thickest part of the patty. If they are still pink in the centre, return them to the oven for a few more minutes.
Meanwhile, Make the Orzo/Risoni
- Wipe out the pan again, and heat butter over a medium heat. Fry the sage leaves until they begin to crisp, then remove with tongs or a slotted spoon to a paper towel.
- Add the shallots and garlic to the butter in the pan and cook for a minute or two until they are soft and fragrant. Stir in the orzo/risoni ensuring it is well coated in the butter and shallot mixture. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the wine and thyme. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook for a further 7 to 10 minutes. Stir frequently and keep testing the orzo/risoni for doneness, as different brands have different cooking times.
- Add the cream and spinach and simmer, stirring, until spinach is just wilted. Stir in the parmesan.
- To serve, spoon the orzo into bowls and top with the meatballs. Sprinkle over the extra chopped parsley and grated parmesan, and top with crispy sage leaves.