I believe I've mentioned on this blog that I sort of love ground chicken. Especially chicken burgers. They're so versatile and flavorful. So, when I was looking for a non-lasagna way to use up a tub of ricotta cheese and came across this recipe for chicken meatballs, with a mac & cheese, I was in.
This was a fun recipe to make. The meatballs are juicy and practically bursting with flavor and the cheese sauce is a lovely compliment. It's also a really quick recipe - you realistically can get the entire thing done in 30 minutes, which I really appreciate.
Mac & Cheese with Chicken Meatballs
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 20 minutes
1 lb penne pasta (or similar size)
1/2 lb ground chicken
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup bread crumbs (more if needed)
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup 2% milk
salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Mix together the ground chicken, rosemary, garlic, ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. If the mixture seems to wet, add more bread crumbs. Form into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. Place on a baking dish and coat with olive oil. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
While the meatballs are roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles to al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour (I also added 1 TBSP minced garlic). Whisk together and let cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock and milk and whisk together. Let cook to thicken for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Add the remaining 1 cup Parmesan cheese and whisk together until the cheese is melted.
Toss with the pasta and serve with meatballs on top.