Those who know me now does not understand how I could have been such a picky little girl as a child. Unfortunately my skinny season lasted only up to 5 years old, when, after the tonsils operation, the enticing world of tastes and smells of the kitchen unrolled in front of my greedy eyes, turning me into a constant seeker of the most tasty and appetizing titbit, often even at the expense of Claudia.
She was born nine years after me, she was picky as a baby, lazy in eating and she really didn’t need much to feel full. I was different: every time it looked like I hadn’t eat for a week, and often – I am almost ashamed to tell you this – I used to keep a look-out for what she left in her dish, because ‘Grandma she has finished, right? She’s not hungry any more, isn’t she? ‘
Grandma and Mum did their best to cook things that Claudia might like, to mark at least once a circle on the calendar, a prize for the rare days when my little blonde sister finished all the food in her plate (maybe those were the days when I was not at home).
Slices of tender meat coated with breadcrumbs and stewed in tomato sauce, custard, chocolate sponge cake rolls: they were harmless-looking dishes hiding very nutritious ingredients, so that Claudia could stock up a little weight even though she was not able to finish her dish.
One of those innocent-looking dishes were these chicken breast meatballs. Tiny and with a simple flavour, they were made with meat, potatoes and cheese: 3 or 4 meatballs would be enough to cover up a whole meal. I was so happy every time mum cooked the chicken meatballs for Claudia, and so convinced of their light and harmless aspect that I was always demanding for them, deeply sure they were a light dish… blissful innocence!
For children, the best side dish is a warm and creamy bowl of mashed potatoes, with lots of Parmesan in it: light colours, delicate flavours and easy to eat meatballs, how more can you ask for more?
Looking at the meatballs from the perspective of the grown up Giulia, however, I felt the urge to make them more interesting, playing with textures and seasoning: instead of mashed potatoes as a side dish I’ve served fresh fennel cut into wedges and drizzled with the same extra virgin olive oil I used to season the meatballs, this made to add the crunchy note I enjoy in every dish. Not content with the fennel, I decided to season the meatballs with three German mustards, Karin‘s gift, one with chestnuts, one with apples and one with peaches, so yummy! Obviously any type of mustard will do, provided it is not too pungent to cover the delicate flavour of the chicken.
- 3 medium potatoes
- 500 g chicken breast
- 3 heaping tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
- sea salt
- chives olive oil, mustard, for serving
Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges, then steam them in a pressure cooker for 8 minutes or cook them in boiling water for about 25 minutes, until they are thoroughly cooked.
Grind the chicken breast and mash the boiled potatoes, then mix all the ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Season with salt to taste and form many walnut size balls. Wet your hands with cool water when shaping the meatballs to help prevent the mixture from sticking to your fingers.
Steam the meatballs: if you have a pressure cooker 6 minutes will be enough, otherwise use a regular pot with a steamer and steam them for 20 minutes.
To cook the meatballs faster, I made four layers of chicken meatballs, separating them with a sheet of waxed paper, and I cooked all the meatballs in the same time in my pressure cooker.
When ready, season the meatballs with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle them with chopped chives.