With December upon us, our schedules are filling up with office holiday parties, club potlucks, and family get-togethers. Whether you’re hosting, or attending, having a few solid canapés will make you the star of any holiday shindig. Over the next four weeks, I’m going to show you a few of my favorite one-bite-wonders.
One of my favorite canapes are Arancini. The little breaded rice balls, are crisp on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. The name comes from the Italian word Arancina, which literally means “little orange.” The thing is, beyond the shape and a vaguely similar hue, arancini bear little in common with the diminutive fruit.
It got me wondering how I could make an Arancini that was truer to the name. It was that train of thought that led me to these Orange Chicken Polpettine. Equal parts Chinese, American, and Italian, these “little meatballs” are tender mouthfuls of flavor that that are savory on the inside with a sweet citrusy lacquer on the outside.
Inspired by the Chinese-American classic, orange chicken, and armed with techniques acquired while perfecting my spaghetti and meatballs, I set out to make some little oranges that are both delicious and easy to make.
Ordinarily, as a meatball cools, the fat congeals, and the collagen sets, making the meatballs tough and even chewy. This generally makes them a poor choice as a canape, but I’ve figured out a way around this problem. By using lean ground chicken and blending it with a fairly high ratio of tofu and breadcrumbs, it not only helps keep the meatballs moist when warm, it also helps keep them tender when cold. For those of you grimacing at the mention of tofu, don’t worry, you can’t taste it, and unless your guests are mind-readers neither will they.
Since the meatballs can be shaped and fried in advance and then reheated in the oven before being glazed in the sauce, these are about as low effort as canapés get; perfect for bringing to a potluck. If you plan to serve them warm, you can also include a little bowl with extra sauce to dip the meatballs.
Orange Chicken Polpettine
- 450 grams ground chicken (1 pound)
- 225 grams silken tofu (8 ounces)
- 120 grams panko (about 1 1/3 cup)
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
- 2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- vegetable oil for frying
- For the sauce:
- 2/3 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup orange marmalade
- 2 teaspoons potato starch
- In a medium bowl, add the ground chicken, tofu, panko, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, grated ginger, salt and white pepper. Use your hands to knead the mixture together until it is very uniform.
- Add 1-inch of oil to a heavy bottomed pot and preheat to 340 degrees F (170 C).
- Get a tablespoon to measure out the chicken and put the potato starch into a bowl.
- Generously dust your hands with potato starch and scoop out 1 level tablespoon of meat mixture into the palm of your hand. Roll the meat around to make it spherical and to dust the outside surface with potato starch. Place the meatballs on a non-stick baking sheet.
- Repeat until you've used all the meat.
- Fry the meatballs until golden brown, rolling them around so that they brown evenly.
- To make the sauce, whisk together the orange juice, marmalade and 2 teaspoons potato starch in a saute pan and bring to a boil.
- Add the fried meatballs and roll around to coat evenly. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Yield: makes about 60 balls
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.