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Herbed Chicken Meatballs with Lime Raita

March 17, 2012

Last week I had an odd craving for meatballs.  It’s been such a mild winter that I never got around to making spaghetti and meatballs and some of my other cold weather favorites.  It seemed a little odd to make traditional stick-to-your ribs meatballs when crocus and daffodils are starting to bloom.  I wanted something a little lighter and fresher…herbed chicken meatballs with a refreshing raita fit the bill.  I dusted off this recipe I made a few years ago and made some slight changes.  This was the perfect Saturday night dinner after a day full of errands and chores.

I am very particular about buying ground meat so it’s worth seeking out high quality products or grinding your own.  Dark meat has a higher fat content and is typically better and more flavorful for meatballs.  That said, I used fresh ground chicken from Double L Market in Westport that is mostly white meat but has some dark meat mixed in for flavor and fat.  The meatballs weren’t dry at all and had plenty of flavor – this is definitely my new “go to” source for  ground chicken.



Herbed Chicken Meatballs with Lima Raita
adapted from the New York Times
serves 3-4

For the lime raita:
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and finely diced cucumber (use English or kirby if possible)
kosher salt
juice from half a lime
cayenne pepper, to taste
honey, to taste
paprika, to taste

For the meatballs:
1 large slice white bread, crusts removed and torn into pieces (about 1/2 cup)
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 pound good quality ground chicken (preferably dark meat)
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 teaspoons finely chopped mint
2 teaspoons finely chopped basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh serrano chile (optional)
olive oil









Lightly salt the cucumber in a small bowl and let sit for 15-20 minutes.  I do this step first and then do all the other chopping and prep while the cucumber sits.  Drain the liquid from the cucumber and add the yogurt and lime juice, stirring to combine.  Season to taste with salt and cayenne or black pepper.  Taste again and add more lime juice for more acidity and a little honey to sweeten.  Sprinkle with a little paprika.

In another small bowl, cover the bread with as much milk as it will absorb and let soak for about 5 minutes.  Squeeze the bread to wring out the milk and add to a mixing bowl, mashing with a fork.  Add ground chicken, chives, mint, basil, salt, pepper and chilies, if using.  The best way to mix it all together is with your hands but you may use a fork instead.

Cover the bottom of a straight sided sauté pan with olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of butter (you can omit the butter if you like) and heat over medium heat.  Covering the bottom of the pan with oil may seem like a lot – the meatballs really don’t absorb any of the oil and you need it to prevent sticking.  To test the seasoning, fry a small patty until the inside is no longer pink and taste it.  If it tastes bland, add salt and pepper to the meat mixture.  Fill a small bowl with water and wet your hands to make rolling the meatballs easier.  Roll meatballs into 1-inch balls, wetting your hands to prevent the meat from sticking.  Add meatballs to pan without crowding and fry, turning every few minutes, until brown all over, 7-10 minutes.   Serve meatballs with the lime raita.











Note: learn from my mistake and use a straight sided sauté pan and not a frying pan with angled sides.  The angled sides made a mess from splatters.  I will give you my favorite kitchen cleaning products in a post soon!

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