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Football Food: Chicken Meatballs in Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce
Ok, we all know that I mostly watch and encourage others to join in the watching of Football primarily for the snacks. Like 95% for the snacks. 4% to hang out with friends. And 1% to appall the husband with my questions – due to my utter lack of football knowledge. But, lets be clear, I am 0% there for the football.
Since 95% of the reason I showed up or opened my home to these football watching people is the food, then it better be pretty darn tasty! But a lot of football snacks are the same. Chips. Dip. Guac. Lil smokies. Hoagies. Chicken wings. Ribs. Etc. I think football foods need to be easy to eat in one or two bites! Anyone who has ever dripped bbq sauce down the front of their shirt during a game knows why. So I started brain storming options….
A couple weeks ago… The husband and I made some kofta meatballs in a zesty spinach and garlic sauce. I loved the utility of the dish and knew I wanted to make a football watching friendly meatball that wasn’t in the perfunctory marinara sauce. Then while slurping up a spicy peanut satay sauce at our favorite thai place, a light bulb went off in my head!
I was going to pack the flavors of Thai larb (a traditional dish made from seasoned ground meat) into a chicken meatball swimming in a spicy thai peanut sauce! The result is
I used lean ground chicken in these meatballs for a few reasons: less fat means they will cook more quickly and evenly, be a bit healthier, and be lighter in flavor which allows the onion, ginger, and garlic to come. Also, its all about balance! A lighter meatball is the perfect accompaniment for this rich, smooth peanut sauce! I am a big fan of anything spicy, saucy, and peanut-y. In fact, I have an overly stocked shelf of different peanut butters at all times. Different ones for different things, you know?
The husband was super pumped about this dish! On a side note: He refers to meatballs as meat-bulbs. But, he jumps right in to be my “meat-bulb” maker, so he can call them whatever he wants! Plus, the dish passes my 2 bite test!!
After scarfing down meatball after meatball and practically spooning the leftover sauce from the pot into his mouth, the husband cheerily relayed that we should make these again. And soon! As if his peanut sauced chin wasn’t evidence enough;)
On a flavor note, I love how different these meatballs and sauce are from the other items most commonly found during games. Anything I can do to break up the monotony of a spread dominated by bbq sauced meat, deep fried wings, and chips and dip! Sign me up!
Sunday afternoons need more spicy thai peanut sauce. Not more bbq sauce. Don’t you agree?? If you make these, be sure to tag @almostproperly and #footballfood on Instagram!
- 1 lb. lean ground chicken
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 tbsp. fresh peeled ginger, grated
- 2 tsp. thai fish sauce
- 1 tsp. salt, plus more
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp. toasted brown rice powder*
- 3 tbsp. canola oil (or other flavorless cooking oil)
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp. fresh peeled ginger, finely grated or minced
- 1 tsp. sambal oleek, or other chili garlic paste
- 1 c. vegetable or chicken stock, plus more
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. fish sauce
- 1/2 c. peanut butter, natural unsalted (only ingredient should be peanuts)
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. Sriracha (or similar)
- 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 - 1 tsp. kosher salt, to taste
- cilantro leaves, for serving
- crushed red pepper flakes, for serving
*To make toasted rice powder, toast 1/2 c. brown rice in hot dry skillet tossing occasionally until fragrant and lightly golden. Allow to cool, and grind in spice mill or clean coffee grinder until the texture of a fine powder. Leftover powder can be stored in airtight container for several months.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
To make the meatballs, heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, ginger, a pinch of salt, and pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened and are slightly translucent. Set skillet aside. Add onion mixture to a large bowl with ground chicken. Add fish sauce and salt. Mix to combine. Add beaten egg and toasted brown rice powder. Mix just until combined. Roll chicken mixture into 1" diameter balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. You should have about 18 meatballs. Use the same skillet to heat canola oil over medium high heat. Once water droplets sizzle when sprinkled into oil, work in batched and add meatballs. Don't allow meatballs to touch in the pan and cook on each side for about 1.5 - 2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn heat down if they brown too quickly. Once golden brown on all sides, transfer to a plate and repeat process with remaining meatballs.
To make the spicy peanut sauce, place a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed soup pan over medium heat and add coconut oil. Then add garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant stir in sambal oleek. Cook for 20 seconds longer, then add stock, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl, combine peanut butter, honey, rice wine vinegar, and Sriracha with a fork. Transfer 1/2 c. of simmered broth to peanut butter mixture and whisk to combine. Transfer peanut butter mixture to pot with the rest of the stock. Whisk until smooth and add salt to taste.
Bring peanut sauce to a simmer and add meatballs to mixture. Spoon sauce on top of meatballs to coat. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes for sauce to thicken and meatballs to cook through and reheat. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and additional Sriracha as desired. Garnish with cilantro and crushed red pepper flakes.
Use toothpicks to serve directly from the pot. Serve immediately.