Saucy chicken and rocket meatballs

Most of us cook from a rotating menu of a dozen or so meals. Dish magazine’s food editor and easy everyday meal expert Claire Aldous offers some fresh inspiration. Add flowers and a glass of wine to transform the everyday into something extraordinary.

Food Claire Aldous and Susan Wood. Photography Laura Forest. Styling Rebekah White.

Switch out boring beef meatballs with these tasty free-range chicken numbers. 

2 tbsp olive oil 
4 slices streaky bacon, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100g rocket leaves, finely shredded
500g free-range chicken mince
1⁄2 cup fresh soft bread crumbs
1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp capers, roughly chopped 
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1⁄2 cup seasoned flour

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tins Italian tomatoes, crushed
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

To serve
hot, cooked pasta
freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Meatballs: Heat oil in a sauté pan and cook bacon. Add the garlic and rocket leaves and stir to wilt. Transfer to a plate and cool.

Combine chicken mince, bread crumbs, cheese, capers and the egg in a bowl and season. Add the rocket mixture and combine well. Roll into walnut-sized balls.

Heat a little olive oil in a large sauté pan. Dust meatballs with flour, shaking off the excess. Cook over a moderate heat in a single layer until golden and just cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate when cooked. 

Sauce: Tip most of the fat out of the pan and add the butter. Add onion and cook until soft, then add the tomatoes and thyme and season. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened a little. Add the meatballs along with any juices and simmer until hot. 

Serve with pasta, Parmesan and salad. 

Serves 4

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