Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mama Pirri's Chicken & Sausage Meatballs, Garlic & Mushroom Alfredo Sauce, and a little TEAMWORK!

Mama Pirri's Chicken & Sausage Meatballs
Garlic & Mushroom Alfredo Sauce

You know it's a serious pasta night when I break out the big olive pasta bowl.   You know it's going to be serious Italian food when it's prepared by Mama Pirri.

Tonight I am showcasing chicken and sausage meatballs; moist on the inside and perfectly browned on the outside, with a light lemon flavor; served with a wonderful garlic and mushroom Alfredo over whole grain linguine.  Yum!

Mama Pirri, exercising and watching "The Chew"
Older, single Gentlemen, she's "available."  ;.)

This recipe is brought to you by way of teamwork.  See, Mama Pirri was watching "The Chew" one day a week or so ago and she saw Mario Batali make his chicken meatballs.  She liked the recipe but Mama Pirri is just like me (or I'm like her); we can't make anyone else's recipe without adding in a little of this and a lot of that. 

She came up with her own recipe.

Mama Pirri was concerned because she hadn't ever made chicken meatballs before.  She'd only made her traditional Italian style using beef, veal and pork.  She called me up yesterday and she said, "I made these meatballs.  I used jar of Alfredo sauce with the ones I ate.  But something just isn't right.  I think it's the sauce." 

I had to go to Tampa today to my corporate office, so Mama Pirri stopped by with a pan of leftover meatballs and she gave me her recipe.   My mission was to come up with the perfect sauce to accompany them to the pasta "dance." 

My friend, Susanne, works in a test kitchen.  She gives me packets of a frozen Alfredo sauce base which is made with skim milk.  All I do is add in 2% milk and Parmesan cheese.  It's the best I've ever had.

Tonight I incorporated great ideas from both Mama Pirri and Susanne and I added in a few surprises of my own. 

We already know that ground chicken is economical.   Except for the meat and the Panko breadcrumbs, you probably already have most of the other items in your pantry.  Mama Pirri uses only 2 sausages in this recipe.  That means if you purchase the traditional pack of five, you can get a whole other meal out of those!

You can certainly use fresh garlic in this recipe.  I have no aversion to bottled minced garlic, especially on a busy weeknight, as long as it's freshly purchased.  In a dish like this, the bottled garlic almost "melts" into the sauce.  There are some great advantages to using the product.

I highly recommend if you are going to make this recipe to start with a basic Alfredo sauce that is lower in calories but delicious.  Since I obviously cannot give you Susanne's base recipe (I don't even know it),  pick your favorite store-bought brand or make your own from scratch.  There are many basic Alfredo recipes out online that you can follow.  Once you have a good base sauce, use the add ins that I recommend, make Mama Pirri's delicious meatballs, and enjoy!

Note:  A 1/2 pound of whole grain linguine is all you need for four servings.

Here you go - And remember, just like this endeavor with Mama Pirri, life is all about teamwork.  Some people avoid working on teams because they feel they will no longer be a "superstar!"  Perhaps you are an excellent cook, but tonight, I took a little help from Mama Pirri, she took a little advice from me, and we both benefited from Susanne's talent. 

Thank you, Susanne!

Food for thought...

And now;

Mama Pirri's Chicken & Sausage Meatballs

1 pound Ground Chicken
2 Sweet Italian Sausage Links, casing removed
1 cup Lemon Pepper Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup 2% Milk
1/4 cup Egg Substitute
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons Garlic Powder

Olive Oil for browning the meatballs
Cooking Spray

Garlic and Mushroom Alfredo Sauce

1  1/2 cups of your favorite plain, lower calorie Alfredo Sauce (fresh or from a  jar)
1 tablespoon bottled Minced Garlic
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground Nutmeg; more to taste
2 cups sliced white Mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon Butter
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
3 or 4 sprigs Fresh Thyme
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste


1/2 pound whole grain Linguine or other whole grain pasta, cooked per package directions

Extra Parmesan for topping at the table

For the meatballs:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for meatballs.  Work well with your hands until the mixture is combined.  

Yield approximately 12 even-sized meatballs (4 servings - 3 meatballs per serving).

Fill skillet with enough oil to cover half of the meatballs.  Heat oil.   CAREFULLY add the meatballs using a heat-resistant spoon.  Brown meatballs on all sides, approximately five minutes. 

Remove meatballs from pan to a plate lined with paper towels.  Pat off excess grease. 

Spray baking dish with cooking spray.  Place meatballs in baking dish and bake for thirty minutes until meatballs are well done. 

To make the sauce: 

Combine your favorite basic Alfredo sauce, bottled minced garlic and nutmeg in a sauce pan.  Heat over low heat until warmed through.

In a skillet, add butter and oil.  Add mushrooms. 

Sauté mushrooms until golden brown.  Add freshly thyme and black pepper, to taste.

Combine mushrooms and meatballs with the sauce.  Include any juice that the meatballs produced while baking.  Stir and warm for about three or four minutes over low heat.

Serve over pasta with extra Parmesan for topping.

Here are more of Mama Pirri's recipes:

Don't forget, my hubby, Dan, is going to start his weight loss program right here on my blog.  Look forward to his weigh-in soon and cheer Dan on as he meets his goals!
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