TTC: Fried Chicken Meatballs with Collard Greens

Had to do a quick-ish meal prep of my lunches for a week, so I decided to make (and double!) a recipe I’ve already tried before: Fried Chicken Meatballs with Collard Greens.  If you aren’t familiar with my “Through the Cookbook” series, read the intro post here.

This recipe can be found on page 163 of Well Fed Weeknights OR this one is FOR FREE on Melissa Joulwan’s website (click here for the free full recipe!) Basically it breaks down into “roll meatballs, coat them, fry them, bake them, steam greens.” It isn’t rocket scie nce, but WOW is it tasty. See my full rating scores here, and make sure to keep reading for helpful tips!

Fried Chicken Meatballs and Collard Greens

45 Minutes or Less: 5/5

First of all, I doubled the batch and  had some unexpected issues (will explain!) come up while cooking so my full time was 1hr. I have no doubt that if I had made the servings called out in the book that the total time would’ve been about 30 minutes. I opted to double the batch because I wanted something super easy to prep all five of my week’s lunches as well as make dinner for myself tonight. Now, I wouldn’t recommend you eat the same lunch Monday-Friday every week, but if you know a busy week is ahead this can be a lifesaver. Some other things that made my time go slower were….

  • My ground chicken was still mostly frozen – apparently, the Trader Joe’s containers of ground chicken require longer than “overnight” to thaw. Oops. So the meat was about half frozen and required me to microwave defrost. I really hate doing this but my toddler was napping so the timing was essential. This alone added at least five minutes to dealing with forming the meatballs.
  • I had to do two entirely separate batches of greens – again this comes down to me doubling the recipe. I didn’t have a large enough pot to do all of the greens at once (I’ve now added this pan to my Amazon wish list) or two pots with lids. That means my greens cooking time was doubled which added about 7 minutes.
  • My Toddler Woke Up Screaming – This is my real life, and of course as I’ve got one batch of greens going and I’m prepping the second batch, I hear screaming. So I left my greens to tend to a grumpy two year old who wanted lunch. I reheated her some food and get her eating while trying to manage my other batch of greens. Not really sure how much time it added to the process but figured I’d share.

Through those things I mention, I left the timer running the whole time. This is real life and not a cooking show, so the fact that I was still able to double the batch and prep my week’s worth of meals in an hour has me pumped. The book claims this recipe should take “30-35 minutes” and that seems like a fair assessment for the quantities listed.

My lunches for the week. There were five more meatballs not pictured which my hubby ate for dinner. So total the doubled batch made 30 meatballs.

Taste: 4/5

I really REALLY love these meatballs. My guess is the marjoram is what makes the taste unique. Also, pan frying prior to baking really gives the meatballs a great texture. Speaking of pan frying, the book recommends a nonstick skillet, but I’ve had great success using my cast iron skillet. Life tip: use cast iron as much as possible. Less dishes! The reason I give this a 4 is because of the greens. In fact, the rating is more a complaint on texture than it is taste. I’m personally ust not a huge fan of limp/cooked greens. The taste is garlicy and peppery, but the texture isn’t my favorite. In fact, the way I get through the greens is to make sure to take every bite of greens with a bite of the meatballs.

Budget Friendly: 2/5

I hate to be harsh on this so early on, but this isn’t the most budget friendly recipe I’ve come across. Three required ingredients stick out in particular which lowered the score: tapioca starch, marjoram, and ground chicken.

  • Tapioca Starch – This recipe calls for tapioca starch/tapioca flour. The cheapest I’ve found it is for under $5 on Amazon {link!} I highly recommend it if you eat Paleo or Whole30 often, but it is expensive as most alternative flours are.
  • Marjoram – while not an inherently expensive spice, Marjoram is likely something you don’t have in a basic spice cabinet. I consider my spice collection pretty extensive, and I still had to purchase Marjoram. For that reason I consider it a slight negative against the recipe’s budget friendliness.
  • Ground Chicken – The ONLY place I seem to find ground chicken is Trader Joes and the cost is over $3/lb. That means to make this (doubled) recipe I spent over $10 on chicken alone. It bugs me when I can’t purcahse meat at Aldi or Sam’s Club. Spoiler alert, a lot of recipes in Well Fed Weeknights   call for ground meat so you will probably hear this complaint again.

Overall Score for Fried Chicken Meatballs with Collard Greens: 4/5

All things considered, I love this recipe. The flavors are unique, so if you find yourself in a rut with chicken or greens give it a go! We don’t eat these fried chicken meatballs with collard greens often because the grond chicken is harder to come by. Trader Joe’s is about 45mins from the house, and it is a little expensive. That said, the taste and ease of this recie is excellent and I’d highly recommend you give it a try!

Other Helpful Tips

  • Use a BIG Pan – If you are doubling the batch like I did, you are going to want a really big pan. I loooove my roasting pan by USA Pan Jelly Roll pan (not sponsered, but if you want to purchase click here). It perfectly fit the doubled amount of meatballs. To help with cleanup I lined with my reusable parchment paper (click here for something similar, I found mine on clearance at a local grocery store).
  • Roll Up Just Enough to Fry – Like I mentioned before, I used my cast iron skillet to fry the meatballs. What I didn’t mention is that I rolled up enough to fill a single layer, put them in to fry, then continue rolling meatballs. Once those were fried up, I’d put them back on the large baking pan and continue with a new batch. It’s okay to mix the raw meat on the baking pan because it all goes back into the oven. Also, I found that my hands would get sticky and need to be rinsed again so this served as a dual purpose. I’d rinse my hands, deal with the frying meatballs, then return to rolling up some more.  Overall I think I did 3-4 “batches” of meatballs in my cast iron skillet.
  • Save Your Stems! – I love making veggie broth. In fact, I’ve got an Instant Pot Veggie Broth recipe that entirely relies on saving vegetable scraps. That’s exactly what I did! I roasted the greens in my cast iron skillet to keep away bitterness. Basically as I was prepping the greens I threw the stems into the cast iron skillet. Once I had them all done the stems went into the oven. Truthfully I don’t know if the stems would be bitter but I love roasting up veggies if the oven is already going. It seems to give the veggie broth a deeper flavor.
Roasted collard greens stems. I’ll freeze these and use in my Instant Pot Veggie Broth once I have enough other veggie scraps.

Have YOU made the Fried Meatballs with Collard Greens from Well Fed Weeknights?? What did you think? LEt me know, and don’t forget to sign up for emails to make sure you get more tips & reviews on Well Fed Weeknights recipes!

-Rachel



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