Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Crispy Bilinski’s Balsamic and Kale Chicken Meatballs

Meatballs anyone? I love meatballs, all kinds. So when I was presented with Bilinski’s healthy Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage, the first thing I thought of was meatballs. Okay, so I tried to stay true to Bilinski’s healthy point of view (so I didn't deep fry them.) I baked these crunchy little gems of healthy chicken kale and balsamic sausages and served them with a balsamic/whiskey and strawberry Bar-B-Q sauce. I hope you enjoy.

Crispy Bilinski’s Balsamic and Kale Chicken Meatballs
by Maryjo

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons milk
12 ounces Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage
2 whole eggs

Mix 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs with olive oil and broil at 350°F for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring halfway through, until they are golden brown (but not burned...trust me...you've gotta watch these...they will burn the minute you turn your back on them.) You can also brown them in a skillet if you prefer. Put them in a bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 2 Tablespoons of panko breadcrumbs and 2 Tablespoons of milk. Stir to coat the breadcrumbs with the milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until the milk has softened the panko. This is called a panade, but we’re not fancy in my house...we call it the moist maker!

Pre-heat your oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the fully cooked chicken sausages into 1-inch pieces and put them in a food processor. Pulse about 10 times to break them up. Then run the food processor for about 20 seconds until the chicken sausage looks coarsely ground. Add the eggs and pulse until combined. Add the panade to the food processor and pulse to combine. No need to add salt or pepper because the fully cooked Bilinski's chicken sausage is already well-seasoned.

Using a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon, make small, appetizer-sized meatballs (they’re soft, so don’t be alarmed.) Drop them into your bowl of previously toasted panko bread crumbs and turn to coat, then place them on the cookie sheet. Continue to make meatballs, rolling them in the toasted panko, until you have about 30 meatballs. Bake them for 10 minutes, then gently and carefully turn the meatballs over so they can brown on the other side. Cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool. They will firm up as they cool. Serve with any store-bought bar-b-q sauce or make your own. I made a Balsamic/Whiskey and Strawberry sauce (recipe below) to compliment the balsamic flavor in the Bilinski's sausage.

Balsamic/Whiskey and Strawberry Bar-B-Q Sauce
by Maryjo

3/4 cups balsamic vinegar
1 medium shallot, finely chopped (about 3 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup ketchup
6 Tablespoons brown sugar (dark or light, doesn’t matter)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 Tablespoons whiskey (I used Johnny Walker Red)
1/2 cup water

Put the balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the balsamic vinegar is reduced to about 1/3 cup.

In a skillet, sauté the shallots over medium heat until tender (about 3 minutes). Turn the heat to low and add the strawberries. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the balsamic reduction and the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

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