Friday, March 6, 2015

Chermoula Chicken Boulettes AKA Paleo Chicken Balls on Sticks with Magic Sauce

Chermoula sauce is like fairy dust of the kitchen, it turns all it touches into magic food. Chermoula is a North African blend of warm spices, citrus and herbs in oil which is drizzled on everything from fish to meat and veggies. It can be used as a marinade, or a dressing. And I always wish I made a double batch, so I can drizzle its magical powers on everything. 

The chicken meatballs are so simple it is almost primitive cooking, two ingredients. Without the chermoula sauce they are almost unremarkable. Organic turkey or chicken is a good choice for all the reasons we know, environmental, health,  antibiotics, nutrition and animal rights. But also know that the flavors of the poultry are highlighted here, and it is a good time to choose the most happy organic chicken. 

This is a great dish if you are feeding friends who may or may not be gluten free, egg free or dairy free, or paleo! Obviously not a dish for vegetarians, but if you were doing a big party, I would stick some mushrooms or tofu on other skewers and let the vegetarians get some chermoula loving too.

Ground turkey is easy to find where I live, ground chicken less so. Both work. A butcher will often grind it for you, or in a pinch use a food processor to mince larger pieces of meat.

Anyway, now you have your ground or minced chicken. Mix it with the salt and form compact 1.5 inch balls of the chicken mixture. Thread them on metal or soaked wooden skewers. Place them to rest on a foil lined baking tray to rest while the chermoula sauce is made.

Place garlic, cilantro or parsley, lemon zest, paprika, chili powder, cumin, and olive oil into a blender. A blender really does a better job here than a food processor. If you live an electronics free life, do it old school with a mortar and pestle, adding oil in bit by bit as the herbs get bashed up. The sauce is not an emulsion, spices and herbs will settle out to the bottom giving it a chunky look. The flavors will blossom over time.

Drizzle just a bit of the chermoula on the uncooked meatballs. 

If your outdoor grill is covered in a snowy glacier, cook them under the broiler in your stove. With the broiler on high, line up the chicken skewers. Turning as they brown, keep a close eye on them. If your wooden skewers begin to char, cover them with some foil. 

The balls take about 10 to 12 minutes to cook through. Baste them occasionally with more sauce, or scoop up the pan drippings and use that. A thermometer at the interior should read 170° when the balls are throughly cooked.  

Remove to a plate and drizzle that chermoula sauce over them like crazy. 

Note: For individual appetizers, these can be cooked under a broiler in the same manner without the skewers. After the balls are cooked, plate up with some toothpicks. 

Chermoula Chicken Boulettes
16 medium meatballs, 4-5 servings

For the chermoula sauce:
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro or parsley
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch of salt

For the chicken balls:
1 pound ground or minced chicken
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 skewers (soak if wooden)

Find this and 101 other meatball recipes in my new book Global Meatballs! I know, that is seriously a lot of meatballs. 

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