Meatballs are good. They’re great, in fact. But sometimes, I’m hungry and impatient. Going to the store is out of the question. What’s in the fridge and pantry is what’s gonna end up on our plates and in our mouths. Sometimes that leads to resourcefulness, wild abandon, and chicken sausage balls. And then we end up happy that we didn’t have ground beef in the house. Cue this amazing freshly ground, locally made, chicken sausage with fennel seeds, black pepper, and sea salt. I love it because it comes casing-free and, therefore, über adaptable. For this necessity-is-the-mother-of-yumminess recipe, we used:
1 pound ground chicken sausage
1 local, free-range egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
If the mixture feels too wet, the balls aren’t going to hold together and definitely won’t withstand frying. If this is the case, you can add more breadcrumb to counteract the moisture in the sausage. This is the ratio that worked for us, but you can adjust as needed. Once you’re happy with the consistency, try forming a ball.
TIP: moistening your hands with a bit of water will help the meatball rolling process. Dry hands will be sticky, and rolling a ball will be more difficult.
We made our sausage balls about 1″ in diameter, but you can choose the size you like best. Just be sure to make them relatively even in size for ease of cooking time.
Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Once it starts shimmering, it’s hot enough to start dropping the sausage balls. Be careful. Place them one by one into the pan without splattering hot oil on yourself.
Brown them on all sides (as best as you can because they obviously roll around). The caramelization will be a bonus to your homemade tomato sauce as the intense flavor will permeate throughout. If you make homemade sauce like we do, this is the time to use it. But feel free to use any store-bought sauce you like. Ladle some warmed sauce over the browned chicken sausage meatballs until they’re just about covered. Add more if you’d like.
Put the lid on your skillet and simmer the sauce and meatballs on low for about 20 minutes. This should be enough time for the sauce to adopt some of the flavor from the caramelization on the meatballs and vice versa. Boil up some pasta, get out the cheese, and get to eating.