Coronation chicken meatballs

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was a food blogger. I was never particularly good, and definitely never famous. In the end it was my sincere dislike for food photography and a job that allowed me to write out all the things in my heart (and leave the photography to the professionals) that put paid to that.

I also found that, the more innovative and inventive I was with a dish, the fewer decent, free to use photos there were out there. Look, I haven’t found a solution for this (I am still a terrible, impatient photographer of food), but I want to post a few recipes, because they are worth having out there in the world, and at the very least, I would like to remember them (and the internet never forgets).

All that to say that these Coronation Chicken meatballs were, in the language of our time, EVERYTHING. I’ve made them a few times, a few different ways, and they are delicious. Coronation chicken, in case you’re unfamiliar, is generally a sort of cold chicken salad, with chutney, curry powder and mayonnaise. I like it, but it’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea. This dish, however, is a little different. Using chicken mince, you mix in the flavours of Coronation chicken (curry powder and chutney) into the mince and form meatballs, then brown them in a pan. Use cream to deglaze, and add more of those flavours, and server over millet, cauliflower rice, or even pasta or rice, if that’s your thing. They are spicy, a little bit sweet, creamy and ever so moreish. Try it and see :)

Here are two terrible photos of just the meatballs that I set aside for my son, that are not quite as horrific as the ones I took when we ate this the other night. Those were so blurry, you could hardly see the food. If there are any budding food photographers and food stylists in the Southern Suburbs, I’m happy to cook if you want to practice making it look good!

Ingredients:
MEATBALLS:

  • 500g chicken mince
  • 1 medium to large baby marrow, finely grated
  • 1 medium to large carrot, finely grated
  • 1/2-2 TSP curry powder (I use Woolies Medium Curry Powder – use less or a milder version if you don’t like spice)
  • 2-3 TBSP chutney (I use a peach chutney from Zetler’s farm stall on the Spier road in Stellenbosch, but any will do)
  • 1 TSP salt (omit if making for babies under 1)
  • Generous grind of fresh black pepper 

SAUCE:

  • 250ml of cream
  • 1-2 TSP curry powder
  • 2-3 TBSP chutney
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl, and mix using a butter knife. This will help to pull the ingredients through one another, without risking overmixing the meat and making the meatballs tough.
  2. Cover the mixture with cling film, pushed right down onto the surface of the mixture, and let is stand for a bit. 10 minutes is fine, or do it in the morning and put it into the fridge. This just helps the flavours to develop a bit more.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan and add a little oil or butter (I don’t believe there is a way to truly cook without fat, nor do I think it’s necessary).
  4. Put 1 tiny spoonful into the pan, and fry until golden on both sides. This is a taster, and is very important for ensuring the seasoning and flavours of your meatballs are good, and it doesn’t take long. Adjust your mixture as necessary, after tasting your taster.
  5. Using a small, levered ice cream scoop, or two spoons, drop balls of the meat mixture into hot oil, spacing them evenly without them touching in the pan. Stop when your pan is full – I usually have to do 2-3 batches.
  6. Let them cook on a medium heat, turning over when the bottom os golden brown, and cooking on all sides. Mine are quite small, probably just bigger than an inch in diameter, so they cook in just a few minutes. 
  7. Remove to a bowl as they cook, and fill up the space with more balls as you go.
  8. When all the meatballs are cooked, fry 1-2 TSP curry powder, depending on how hot you like it. I like it quite spicy, so I err on the side of hotter.
  9. When the curry is fragrant, which will only take a minute or so, pour in the cream and add the chutney, stirring it all together and heating through. 
  10. You can bring it to the boil, but there’s really no need. Just heat until hot, then add all the meatballs back to the pan, and heat them through, ensuring that they are all cooked right through.

Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, pasta or mashed potatoes with a fresh, green side and a glass of rose or Chardonnay to cut through all that spice and creaminess. Just delicious!

Varieties:

One thing I have loved about these meatballs is that they are so versatile. 

  • Making them for kids? Omit the curry powder, and use a bit of apricot jam instead to make fruity meatballs. My 1.5 year old loves them!
  • Sometimes I also just reduce the curry powder in the meat mixture, fry all the meatballs off (checking in the taster that they are ‘cool’ enough for my son) and remove some for him. Then I amp up the spice in the sauce to get the spicy flavours I’m after.
  • You can also add more or fewer veggies. Adding finely grated veg gets a few extra vitamins in, without really affecting the texture. You could add a bit more, but just check that the mixture still holds together in a ball before you add too much.
  • Chicken mince is also pretty sticky, which means I never have to use egg or breadcrumbs as a binder, which is great, because I don’t really eat bread. 
  • I’ve also chopped up a handful of dried apricots and mixed them in, for some added texture, which was delicious. 
  • Last night I added a cup of frozen peas to the sauce before adding the meatballs back in, and that was also yum.
  • If you can’t find chicken mince and have a food processor, you could easily do this with boneless chicken breasts – just add all the meatball ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the meat is minced and the other stuff is even;y mixed in.
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