Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cranberry Chicken Meatballs with Cranberry Gravy

Cranberries, sage, and red onion flavor ground chicken in meatballs served with cranberry gravy

Cranberry Chicken Meatballs with Cranberry Gravy | Farm Fresh Feasts

My spouse used to buy CDs and books based on the covers (you know, in the days pre-online shopping, when you'd physically scan the shelves and pick up what caught your eye).  He discovered Willy Porter's Dog Eared Dream (Amazon affiliate link) that way (cute dog on the cover).  He also found a cooking with fruit cookbook (which, sadly, has been lost in the many moves).  I always intended to use that book to add more fruit to savory dishes, but it never really caught on with me.

I have a taste memory of a wonderful chicken schnitzel melba (chicken, peaches, brown gravy) from Restaurant Paltzer in Spangdahlem, Germany that is my Gold Standard for a savory, fruit-and-meat entree.  I'm still working on the recipe for that (though my German coworker is helping!), but since it's getting on to cranberry season and I'm all about eating with the seasons (or putting up produce while it is in season to eat later) I'll share these cranberry chicken meatballs.

Even though I tend to stock a lot of local ground beef in my freezer, I am not immune to a good deal on ground chicken at the grocery store.  I had chopped cranberries (from these muffins) and some red onions and sage from the farm share.  The family was pretty pleased at the thought of chicken and noodles for dinner.  Perhaps they were happy about a pink meal that didn't contain beets. Even though I had 2 burners and the oven going, this meal wasn't that much plate-spinning effort.  I threw the meatballs together and chucked them into the oven, freeing up my hands to make the gravy while the noodles and meatballs were doing their own thing.

Making Cranberry Chicken Meatballs with Cranberry Gravy | Farm Fresh Feasts
Making Cranberry Chicken Meatballs with Cranberry Gravy | Farm Fresh Feasts
Making Cranberry Chicken Meatballs with Cranberry Gravy | Farm Fresh Feasts

Cranberry Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken
1 cup chopped cranberries (previously frozen is fine, after all you're going to cook them anyway)
1 cup chopped red onion
1 egg
3/4 cup soft bread crumbs (I used 1 large--leftover--hamburger bun)
2 teaspoons Bicentennial Rub or poultry seasoning blend
1 1/2 Tablespoons sliced fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or unfresh, whatever you have)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I have kosher)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  I use my hands, so I don't beat the poor concoction to the ground resulting in a heavy meatball.  Form into small balls, about 1 generous Tablespoon each. I use a scoop or disher for this, and my autocorrect is clearly not from Rhode Island because it wants to change disher to fisher.  You can find the gizmo that I use here (Amazon affiliate link).
I baked my meatballs in a cast iron skillet because I didn't think they'd have much fat (I was right) but use a broiler pan or rimmed baking sheet if you like.  Bake for 25 minutes.  While the meatballs are baking, prepare the noodles (if you like) and make the Cranberry Gravy.

Cranberry Gravy

a splash of olive oil, about 1-2 teaspoons
1/2 cup chopped cranberries (if you make the Mini Cranberry Yogurt Muffins, the meatballs, and the gravy you'll use an entire bag of cranberries and have no need to go off on a rant)
2-3 Tablespoons minced red onion
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth (mine was salted, so I did not add any salt to this gravy)

Preheat a medium (10 inch) cast iron skillet over medium heat.  (If you want noodles, make sure to get a pot of water going and cook the noodles, too).  Add the olive oil, and when it is hot add the cranberries, onion, and garlic.  Sauté for about 5-8 minutes, until the onion and cranberries are softened.  If you're used to making perfectly smooth gravy this will drive you batty with all the chunks of cranberries, so you may wish to move them to a plate while you're making the gravy. If you can live with a few lumps in life, then push the cranberries to the perimeter of the skillet and add the butter in the center.  When the butter is melted, add the flour, stir, and cook until the flour begins to turn brown.  Add the chicken stock (hey, bonus points if yours is heated, I always forget) and stir everything together.  Heat until the gravy is thickened.  Serve!

Cranberry Chicken Meatballs with Cranberry Gravy | Farm Fresh Feasts


  1. This reminds me of the time I attempted to make cherry lamb meatballs in cherry gravy. Me'thinks your chicken and cranberry concoction was much more successful... I love cranberry in savory dishes, this looks fantastic!

    1. Julie,
      Your key word that jumped out at me was 'attempted' . . . cherry and lamb sounds good to me. I've used dried cherries and pork, and dried cherries and turkey, and I still have some dried cherries because we got a really large box from Traverse City, so perhaps that's on the horizon.

  2. Intriguing... I love the bursts of color from the cranberries. And that there are cranberries in both the meatballs and the gravy. This might be a hard sell to the rest of the family, but know I'll be trying!

    1. Sarah,
      I thought the color looked pretty as well, and honestly I was trying to use the entire bag of chopped cranberries (leftover from the muffins I posted on Monday). And it worked, because the family loved it.

  3. I always use my hands when making meatballs. I didn't even realize you could use a spoon or some other utensil. Good to know I was already on the right path.
    Cranberry chicken meatballs is incredibly creative.

    1. Meghan,
      See, that's love right there--handling raw meat with your vegetarian hands to make meatballs for your carnivorous spouse. I didn't buy my cookie scoop/disher/meatball portioner/pesto freezer ball maker (got it in a raffled Cookie Theme basket) but it sure is useful. Useful enough for me to go out and spend my own money and BB&B coupon on a larger one for muffins.