As I was assembling this buffalo chicken meatball dish last night, I wondered what I would write to go along with the recipe.
I know who would be all over this recipe, I thought.
And like that, I was lost in memories with my buddy, Ernesto, and all our crazy adventures, as I methodically formed, stuffed, and rolled these buffalo chicken meatballs. When I came out of my daydream, I laughed at how obvious it had been. Of course I’d write about Ernesto.
Ernesto and I used to be co-workers at a law firm in San Diego. We initially bonded over our mutual, steadfast, obsessive, undying love for buffalo wings, and pretty much anything buffalo chicken. Before long, we were routinely going out for Wing Wednesdays together, tagging each other on every buffalo wings-related post we came across on Facebook, and grilling up wings at each other’s homes.
The thing I love about Ernesto is he truly lives life to the fullest – whether it’s through his travels to exotic places around the world, his genuine curiosity in getting to know new people and learning their stories, or simply his deep, infectious belly-laugh. Hopefully you have a friend like that, who spices things up when they’re around.
And I earlier wrote “our crazy adventures” because hanging out with Ernesto is always an adventure.
From meeting a sad-looking chicken in Vegas…
To attending the American Music Awards…
Or merely going out for wings, it’s bound to be memorable every time.
And because he is my buffalo wing soul brother, I know he will appreciate this spicy, tangy, cheese-filled buffalo chicken meatball recipe.
First, cut 3 string cheeses into 18 pieces, 6 pieces per string cheese. Place in freezer for about an hour. This will help prevent the cheese melting out of the meatballs so much. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, saute the carrots, celery, and onions in a teaspoon of oil for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. I used green onions cause that’s all I had on hand, but any type will work. Add minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until golden.
In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, sauted vegetables, Parmesan, egg, salt, and 1 tablespoon of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Mix until well combined.
Divide mixture into 18 meatballs. You can use a cookie scoop to ensure they are uniform in size. Don’t worry about shaping them yet. Place onto a large, oil-coated sheet pan. Remove string cheese pieces from freezer. Place one in the middle of each meatball, cover with chicken mixture, and then roll into a ball. Bake in the oven for 25-28 minutes or until golden, flipping halfway through the bake time.
While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce by heating Frank’s Red Hot sauce and light butter in the same pan you sauted the vegetables in, over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until butter is melted. Reduce heat to low. Taste-test. If it’s too spicy for you, add more butter until it’s acceptable. Note: this could affect WW points listed below. Alternatively, you can use a pre-made buffalo sauce and skip making it. Just warm it up in the skillet.
Add cooked meatballs to pan, shake pan and stir so that meatballs roll in the sauce and are covered.
Drizzle light blue cheese dressing or ranch over top and serve with carrots and celery.
Mozzarella Stuffed Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
Freeze Time: 1 hour Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Yields: 6 servings, Serving Size : 3 meatballs
WW Totals: 3 Freestyle Points per serving (or 1 point per meatball)
3 WW light string cheese sticks
1 lb ground chicken breast, 99% fat free
1/3 cup celery, diced
1/3 cup carrot, diced
1/3 cup onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup Parmesan, grated
1 tbsp + ¼ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
2 Tbsp of melted light butter (I use Brummel & Brown)
2 Tbsp of light blue cheese or light ranch (optional)
- Cut each string cheese stick into 6 pieces, roughly ¾ an inch long, so that you have 18 pieces. Freeze for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a baking sheet with oil to prevent sticking.
- In a medium-sized skillet, saute carrots, celery, and onions for 5 minutes or until softened. Add minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds or until golden.
- In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, sauted vegetables, Parmesan, egg, salt and 1 tablespoon of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Mix well until well combined.
- Divide mixture into 18 meatballs. If desired, use a cookie scoop to evenly distribute meatballs onto a large baking pan. Remove string cheese pieces from freezer and place one piece in the center of each meatball, cover with chicken mixture, and roll into a ball. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until golden, flipping halfway through the bake time.
- Make sauce by heating Frank’s Red Hot sauce and light butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until butter is melted. Reduce heat to low. Alternatively, you can use a pre-made buffalo sauce and skip making it. Just warm it up in the skillet.
- Add cooked meatballs to pan. Stir and shake pan to roll meatballs in the sauce until all are covered. Drizzle light blue cheese or ranch dressing on top and serve with carrots and celery.