These paleo, fried chicken meatballs are from Melissa Joulwan’s latest cookbook Well Fed Weeknights and they are finger-lickin good. I absolutely love this book! I am super happy that I can share this recipe with you guys. Served with garlicky collard greens, these scrumptious balls make a comforting weeknight dinner.
According to the author, these taste like fried chicken without the annoying deep frying and pesky bones getting in the way. They are great straight out of the oven, but are also awesome at room temperature for picnics, and they freeze/reheat like champs.
Check out Melissa’s book here. It’s full of wonderful meals and recipes for all occasions, and is one of my favourite books for 2016.
Melissa’s cooking notes
- You can replace the ground chicken with ground turkey, pork, or beef.
- Making these ahead of time? Season the ground chicken and form the meatballs. Prep the fried chicken coating. Wash and cut the collard greens. Store everything separately in airtight containers in the fridge, then follow the directions for cooking the meatballs and the greens.
Regular garlic and onion powder can be used in this recipe. Sweet paprika can be used instead of smoked paprika. Any other leafy greens such as silverbeet or chard can be used instead of collard greens.
For the meatballs
- 1 1/2 pounds / 700 grams ground chicken
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the coating
- 3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or cassava flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse (granulated) onion powder
- Pinch dried marjoram
- Pinch ground cayenne pepper
- Pinch ground cloves
- 1 bunch collard greens (about 1 pound/ 500 grams)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Season the chicken. Place the ground chicken, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl; mix well.
- Make the coating. In a shallow bowl, use a fork to combine the tapioca starch, salt, smoked paprika, black pepper, sage, garlic powder, onion powder, marjoram, cayenne pepper, and cloves.
- Make the balls. Moisten your hands with cold water, then measure rounded tablespoons of ground chicken and roll the chicken into balls. Roll each ball in the seasoned tapioca starch. Set the chicken balls aside on the baking sheet until you’re ready to fry them.
- Fry the balls.. Place 1 tablespoon oil in a large, nonstick skillet over high heat, 2–3 minutes. Place half of the meatballs in a single layer in the pan, leaving some wiggle room around them. Cook until they’re browned on all sides, 4–5 minutes total. Transfer the balls to the baking sheet. Add 1–2 teaspoons oil to the pan and brown the remaining meatballs and transfer them to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes.
- Prep the greens. Wash the leaves and remove the tough ribs. Stack the leaves and cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat. Toss the still-wet greens into the pan, add the water, cover with a lid, and steam for 5 minutes or so, until almost all the water is evaporated. Remove the lid and toss the greens with two wooden spoons until they are very dark green and dry. This takes about 2–3 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and crush the garlic.
- Season the greens.Push the greens to the side of the pan, add the oil, and drop the minced garlic into the oil. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Toss everything together and allow the greens to cook for another 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, taste, and adjust the seasonings. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm until the meatballs are finished.
- To serve, divide the greens among dinner plates and top with meatballs.