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|Blue Cheese Stuffed Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
For 16 to 24 meatballs:
1 pound of lean ground chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh celery, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon powdered ranch dip mix
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1/2 pound blue cheese, but into 1/2-inch cubes
For the sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup Franks Original or Buffalo Wing Hot Sauce
Salt to taste (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. With a fork, stir together chicken, garlic, onion, celery, ranch dip mix, salt, pepper, egg and breadcrumbs until mixed. Using an ice cream scoop (or your hands), mold the mixture into meatballs.
3. Press a cube of blue cheese into the center of each meatball then fold the mixture around the cheese and press together. Roll into a ball so that the cheese is completely covered.
4. Place meatballs on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake for 16-20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
5. Place the meatballs in a slow cooker with the butter and buffalo wing sauce. Place on high for about 20 minutes until hot. Add salt to taste, if needed.
Keep slow cooker on warm while serving.
I was able to make these on SuperBowl Sunday - they turned out really well, and this is definitely something that I will be making again.
I made the meatballs according to my recipe above, which I arrived at by combining elements of two different recipes. I was not able to find any decent blue cheese, except the really, really crumbled stuff, so I decided to switch gears and go with a smoked medium cheddar. This was a good substitution, in case anyone has a problem with blue cheese.
There are, as always, a couple of caveats - read on, so that you might learn from my mistakes!
It is important that the onion, garlic and celery need to be chopped very finely - I thought that I had chopped them small enough, but even smaller would have been a lot better. Otherwise, they become chunks that tend to - in my opinion - take away from the results.
Another thing that you want to do is to take care to get the ingredients very thoroughly mixed and the meatballs well-formed, so that they hold together the way that they should. Most of mine were fine, but there were a few that fell apart due to lack of care. One more egg might have helped with this.
The only other major "problem" with my preparation was that I cut the chunks of cheese too big for the size of the meatballs, but I was too stubborn to cut them all down smaller, so there were some blow-outs - this was not a tragedy, but it could have been avoided, and as such it is a fault with my execution of this recipe.
We ended up making two batches of the meatballs, which resulted in 49 meatballs total. After baking them in the oven, half of them went into a crock pot full of the Buffalo sauce (which was simply outstanding). Note - I did not see any need to add any salt to the butter/sauce mixture. It seemed fine the way it was. Your mileage may vary.
The other half went into a crock pot full of store-bought barbecue sauce, because there's no way on earth that The Beautiful Mrs. Tas is going to be able to eat anything containing the words "Buffalo Chicken" in the title.
Both versions turned out really nice, and I was impressed. The sauces kept them from being dry, the flavours worked extremely well together, and I can't think of anything that I would really change about it, other than the improvements mentioned above.
The recipe for the meatballs themselves could easily become my "go-to" recipe for poultry meatballs or meatloaf, I think. Any interested party would be doing themselves a favour by giving these a try as they were indeed really good. Cook them any way you want - deep-frying, on the Weber, you name it - as long as you're able to keep them together, and enjoy!
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