Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs

Story and images provided by Karyl Henry, KarylsKulinaryKrusade.com

I love to entertain. Whether I’m hosting a party at my house, or taking food to a friend’s home, the most convenient food to serve is appetizers. I focus on easy to make, bite-sized appetizers.  Besides, with appetizers guests can pick and choose what they want, and eat as much or as little as they want.

Now that summer is around the corner, I know that I’ll need some new appetizer recipes for summer parties and fall tailgating. Meatballs are an easy appetizer, but the only kind I’ve ever made at home are my Asian Quinoa Meatballs. They are so delicious and hearty, and I could eat them by the dozen. So this was the perfect opportunity to branch out and try something new. Rather than do a traditional beef meatball, I decided to try it with chicken. And then wrap them in bacon because, well, it’s bacon! And that’s how Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs was born.

These Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs are fabulous. The meatballs by themselves are really delicious, and they are on a whole new level when wrapped with bacon. I had to stop myself from eating the entire batch on my own, and in record time.

THE PERFECT MEATBALL MIXTURE

  • I buy pre-ground chicken. Some people grind their own chicken, but that seems like a lot of work. If you have a local butcher, they could also grind the chicken for you.
  • I add baby spinach because it’s a great way to sneak veggies into the meatballs. I use it raw, and chop the spinach into very small pieces.
  • Red Pepper Flakes add flavor and a little heat to the meatballs. With everything else in the meatballs you don’t have to worry about them being too spicy for anyone, even kids.
  • I add fresh grated Parmesan cheese. The first time I  made Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs I didn’t use Parmesan. I added it the second time, and love the flavor the cheese adds. If you don’t like Parmesan, then omit it.
  • Panko Bread Crumbs and egg act as binders for the meatballs.
  • I keep the seasonings very simple, and use only fresh-cracked Black Pepper and coarse Sea Salt. I also add minced onion and garlic, because I add onion and garlic to pretty much everything.

Don’t over-mix the meatball mixture, or they will be dense. I use a tablespoon to measure the meatballs. Yes, they will be small, but because you’re wrapping them in bacon it’s perfect. I scoop the mixture, transfer it to my hands, roll it into a ball in my palms, and set them aside.

BACON!

I tested these Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs with both regular and thick-cut bacon. They both work, but I prefer regular bacon because you can flatten it little bit more, which makes the strips wrap more evenly. Lay a piece of bacon on a flat surface and, using the back edge of a large knife, run the knife along the bacon while pressing down. With the small meatballs, one piece of bacon will wrap 2 meatballs.

The last piece of the puzzle is the sweet and spicy coating. I use a mixture of Dark Brown Sugar, Cayenne Pepper, and Chili Powder. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can never get the mixture to stick evenly on all sides of the Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs. At first I thought the meatballs would have “bald spots”, but seriously…who’s worried about how they look?! It’s all about the glorious flavors.

I serve my Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs with a Spicy Brown Mustard. The mustard adds a fabulous layer of flavor to the Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs. I’ve also eaten them as-is, and they are still fabulous. I skewer the Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs with Toothpicks to keep them together while they bake, and like to leave the toothpick on afterwards. That way, guests can easily pick them up.

For best results, serve the Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs within 15 minutes of baking them. You can keep them warm in an electric skillet or even a crock pot set on low. But let’s be honest, they won’t last long enough to sit around and get cold!

I can’t wait to share my Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs with my friends at the next party. I know they will be a huge hit.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Spinach Meatballs from KarylsKulinaryKrusade.com

Ingredients

8 ounces ground chicken
1 cup baby spinach, tightly packed
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup yellow onion, minced
¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, whisked
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
12 slices bacon
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 Tablespoons chili powder
Spicy brown mustard, for dipping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Top with baking rack, and spray rack well with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, add chicken, garlic, onion, cheese, eggs, Panko, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Rinse and drain baby spinach, and pat dry. Cut spinach into small diced pieces. Add spinach to bowl. 
  4. Mix all ingredients together. Don’t over mix or the meatballs will be dense. Just enough so that the mixture is evenly distributed. 
  5. Form meatballs. I use a 1 Tablespoon scoop, and then roll the meatballs in my palms to make sure they hold together.
  6. Lay bacon pieces on a flat surface. Using the flat end of a large knife, run the knife along the bacon to stretch it out and make it more even. Cut each strip in half. 
  7. Lay a meatball at the end of a piece of bacon, and wrap. Insert a toothpick through each piece to hold the bacon together.
  8. In a large plate combine brown sugar, paprika, cayenne and chili powder. Coat meatball with mixture.  You may need to press mixture onto bacon so it adheres.
  9. Place meatballs on baking rack. Bake for about 25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
  10. Serve immediately, with spicy brown mustard for dipping.

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