Had I been more on the stick a few weeks back I would have posted this dish as an awesome addition to a Super Bowl Sunday spread. As it were, with my beloved Patriots out of the mix I didn't give a rat's patooty about the game, and all thoughts of tail-gating chow were scrapped for another season.
Sorry if I let you down.
Of course, football isn't the only sport worthy of fun food on game day and with the NHL and NBA seasons in full swing, and MLB spring training right around the corner, I'm sure that you'll find some excuse to make these awesome meatballs soon…..not that you need one.
These little monsters are like buffalo wings without all the mess, and as such make a terrific treat to share when your messiest friends pop over for game day……you know who they are. They are not super hot, so if you like your hot wings scorching, set up a little bowl of extra buffalo sauce to dip in right next to your blue cheese dip. The celery is already incorporated in the balls adding a nice crunch and allowing you to kid yourself that these are actually a healthy snack. Go ahead, I did. For those of you that have to SEE your green food to believe it offers any health benefit, then by all means cut up some extra celery and carrot crudité to serve alongside.
If you are really feeling adventurous and looking for some extra work while preparing these nuggets, you could place a chunk of blue cheese in the center of each as a little extra something special. This would be a great job for little hands, just make sure they remember to wash their paws well after helping, as raw chicken and hot sauce could wreak all sorts of havoc if left on little fingers for too long. Serve these up on toothpicks for some mess-free, game-day heat.
Go (insert the name of your team here)!
Cheers – Steve
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
- 1/3 cup Frank's RedHot Sauce, or your favorite hot sauce
- 1 pound ground chicken, preferably thigh meat, or a combination of thigh and breast meat
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 celery stalk, finely minced
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 450℉. Drizzle the vegetable oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and use your hands to evenly coat the surface.
- Combine the butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan and warm over low heat, whisking until the butter is melted and fully incorporated. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the hot sauce mixture, ground chicken, egg, celery, bread crumbs, and salt and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
- Scoop and roll the mixture into 3/4-inch balls, masking sure to pack the meat fairly firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the meatballs are firm to the touch and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165℉. Let the meatballs cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.