Trader Joe’s CHICKEN MEATBALLS “Seasoned – Fully Cooked – Gluten Free”

INGREDIENTS: All Natural Chicken, Sea Salt, Oregano, Basil, Vinegar Powder, Garlic powder, Onion powder, Rosemary, Black Pepper, Parsley

I saw these in the refrigerated section, they’re a kind of New Product from Trader Joe’s. They looked interesting enough to try out. They are fully cooked, seasoned chicken meatballs made from “all natural minimally processed chicken”. They state these are “gluten free” meaning they have no breadcrumbs or other binders (more on this later). They are certainly convenient, just heat and serve. Basically I liked these. I found them to be fairly tasty and seasoned pretty well. The ingredients are simply ground chicken and seasonings. They have no binder / filler even though personally I think they would be better if they did contain a wee bit of filler like a bit of bread crumbs and/or eggs, If you’ve ever made meatballs you know the finished texture can sometimes be a little hard or rubbery if meatballs are made with only meat and nothing else. Adding a bit of a binder and a few veggies will make the meatballs softer and not rubbery. These ones contain no filler, just ground chicken. So be careful to not overcook these; cook them too much and they may become too rubbery. These are already fully cooked, ready to eat, so you just want to basically warm them up or best I think brown them up a bit. I found browning these improved them. See the directions on the package re: “Stove Top”. I found they were good cut up into either slices or small pieces and then seared in butter or olive oil (or a mix) until they got a bit of brown on them. A sprinkle of lemon juice perked them up nicely too. These meatballs can easily become dinner with some rice or potatoes or pasta and a veggie. So good for an easy dinner, or lunch. I think these might match well with any one of TJ’s simmer sauces (Thai or Indian). You could brown the outsides and the add them to the sauce and simmer for just a minute or two and serve. Maybe toss in some frozen beans or peas too. What about using these little meatballs in tomato sauce, ie Italian style? Brown them up and put them in your favorite jarred tomato sauce and toss on to some pasta and you have a nice easy dinner. Or maybe brown them, slice and and make a pita sandwich, with some lettuce and some tahini sauce, or to that on top of a salad. So you might find these a handy thing to have in the fridge. TJ’s Chicken Meatballs are $3.99 for 12 oz. with about 16 meatballs in the package. I figure maybe 4 per person/portion?

Now on the other hand, with just a little effort you can make something better and a bit cheaper easily! Just get a pound of Trader Joe’s (very useful) fresh ground chicken ($3.99 and its a full 16 oz). Mix in one egg, a tablespoon of milk, 1/4 cup of seasoned bread crumbs or panko…Maybe a little chopped onions or scallions and parsley. Mix all in a bowl adding salt and pepper to taste. Form into little meatballs (use wet hands). Brown them in a pan in oil and butter. Turning / shaking the pan every few minutes to brown all sides. See? You can make this kind of thing yourself pretty easily. The cooked ones are convenient of course but I’m sure your homemade ones will no doubt be way better and softer.


DIY Shawarma Chicken (Recipe)

The other day, I wanted SHAWARMA CHICKEN but I was a bit resentful at the current price of a package of TJ’s Shawarma Chicken. It now costs about $11-12 ($6.50/lb. currently) way up from what it orginally cost. I knew I had some boneless chicken thighs in my freezer, and I have spices of course and Greek yogurt. Why not just do a DIY SHAWARMA style chicken on my own and save some dough!? So I did just that. How did it turn out? Delicious! You can easily do a DIY Shawarma Chicken if you want to save some money, and who doesn’t these days with the constant inflation and sticker shock when you go shopping?

I used Trader Joe’s boneless skinless chicken thighs that I had in my freezer (I defrosted the chicken overnight in the fridge) Or buy fresh boneless skinless thighs; they will easily be about $2 cheaper per pound (if not more) Vs. TJ’s Shawarma Chicken which has crept up in price a few times from the original $3.99/lb to $6.49/lb as of this post.

DIY Shawarma Chicken Recipe: Put chicken in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt. Add a few teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Crush 4 cloves of garlic with a little salt and mix into chicken. Add a few spoons (to taste) of ZHOUG Yemeni spicy green sauce. Mix. Even this very simple version will work fine, however to make this better we should add ground spices with “Middle Eastern” flavors. Here’s some ideas for Trader Joe’s spices you can add :

Trader Joe’s EVERYDAY SEASONING (grinder), Onion Salt, Ground Turmeric, Ground Cumin, TJ’s AJIKA blend, TJ Smoked Spanish Paprika, TJ Zaatar spice blend, Black pepper, PINK SEA SALT. A pinch of cinnamon. A small glug of olive oil. MIX everything well so all the spices are mixed in. Let it marinate in fridge for 2-6 hours or overnight or up to 2-3 days. When ready to cook, just make it as you normally grill TJ’s Shawarma chicken thighs. You can of course also make this instead with CHICKEN BREASTS if you prefer white meat but just be very careful about not overcooking them. I like to cook a sliced onion in the same pan as I grill the chicken.