Sheet Pan Chicken Meatballs with Tomatoes and Chickpeas
Harissa, a spicy North African paste of chiles, garlic, and spices, is available in many large grocery stores and Middle Eastern markets—some brands come in tubes, others are sold in jars. If you can’t find it, though, substitute by mixing together your favorite hot sauce, tomato paste, a pinch or two of ground cumin, and a drizzle of olive oil. Keep playing with the ratios until you have a medium-spicy paste.
Author: The Chef
Recipe type: Main dish
- 6 tablespoons jarred harissa paste, such as Mina, divided
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 6 ounces feta in brine plus ¼ cup brine, cheese crumbled, divided
- ⅔ cup chopped parsley, divided
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 garlic cloves, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes, halved if large
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
- Place a rack in top of oven; preheat to 400°. Taste your harissa. If it’s extremely spicy, cut quantities used in recipe in half (most kinds in the jar are fairly mild).
- Using a fork, stir 1 egg, ½ cup panko, ¼ cup feta brine, half of crumbled feta, half of parsley, 4 Tbsp. harissa, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl until egg is blended and mixture looks homogenous.
- Finely grate 2 garlic cloves into bowl, then add 1 tsp. salt and several cranks of black pepper. Be pretty generous here; 10 cranks wouldn’t be too much! Stir again with a fork.
- Add chicken and work with clean hands until chicken is totally intermingled with panko mixture. Work it enough so that you don’t see big distinct pieces of meat, but then stop. Overworking could lead to crumbly meatballs. The mixture will feel very soft and wet and look a bit shiny.
- Pour tomatoes and chickpeas into the center of a large rimmed baking sheet. Add 2 Tbsp. oil and remaining 2 Tbsp. harissa. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Using clean hands or a small spatula, toss everything together right on sheet until chickpeas and tomatoes are evenly coated. Next you’re going to form the meatballs, but don’t wash your hands if you used them—the coating of oil will prevent them from sticking to your palms.
- Roll chicken mixture gently and loosely between your palms into about 16 golf ball-sized balls (it’s okay if the balls aren’t perfectly round; just try to make them about the same size). Place on baking sheet, tucking them in and around chickpeas and tomatoes and spacing evenly apart.
- Bake meatballs on top rack until about halfway cooked through, 12–15 minutes. Remove from oven and take a look. The tomatoes should be starting to soften and burst, and the meatballs should look opaque and feel a bit springy to the touch. If not, bake a few minutes longer.
- Meanwhile, combine remaining 3 oz. feta, ⅓ cup parsley, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl, then grate in remaining garlic clove. Toss with fork to distribute. Turn on broiler (to high if your broiler has settings).
- Place baking sheet back on top rack if your broiler is on the top of your oven. If you have the kind that’s a drawer underneath the oven, slide ‘er right in. Broil meatballs, rotating tray once or twice if they’re browning unevenly, until browned and fully cooked through, some tomatoes are lightly charred, and some chickpeas are crisp, 8–10 minutes.
- Let sit a few minutes, then sprinkle feta mixture over meatballs.
Do Ahead: Meatballs can be formed on baking sheet 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.