This miniature hybrid of chicken Parmesan and meatloaf starts with a mixture of ground chicken, Parmesan cheese, and Italian herbs. It’s divided among the wells of a muffin pan, and then cubes of mozzarella cheese are pushed into the center of each “muffin.” Sprinkle the tops with a panko-Parmesan mixture, bake for a quick half-hour, top with tomato sauce, and you’ll have a kid-friendly mini meatloaf with a molten mozzarella core and a crunchy topping.
What to buy: Panko is coarse Japanese-style breadcrumbs. It’s available in the international section of most supermarkets.
Buy all-dark-meat ground chicken for the juiciest possible meatloaf muffins. If you use all-white-meat ground chicken, you’ll get a drier and less flavorful result.
- Yield: 12 muffins
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 1 hr
- Active: 30 mins
- Cooking spray, for coating the muffin pan
- 1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup panko
- 1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 2 pounds ground dark-meat chicken
- 1/2 cup minced yellow onion (from about 1/2 medium onion)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, medium dice
- 3 cups Basic Tomato Sauce (see recipe intro) or marinara sauce
- Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a 12-well muffin pan on the baking sheet and coat the wells and the top of the pan with cooking spray (alternatively you can use olive oil to coat the pan); set aside.
- Using your fingers, combine 1/3 cup of the panko, 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, and the measured olive oil in a small bowl until evenly moistened; set aside.
- Place the egg in a large bowl and beat it with a fork to break it up. Add the remaining 1/2 cup panko and 1/2 cup Parmesan, the chicken, onion, basil, garlic, salt, oregano, and pepper. Using clean hands, mix everything until combined (don’t squeeze or overwork the mixture).
- Divide the mixture among the wells of the muffin pan. Evenly divide the mozzarella pieces among the wells, nestling them into the center of the chicken mixture and making sure to enclose them. Smooth out the tops of the “muffins.”
- Sprinkle the reserved panko-Parmesan mixture evenly over the tops of the meatloaf muffins and gently press to adhere.
- Place the baking sheet with the muffin pan on it in the oven and bake until the meatloaf muffins are cooked through, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the tomato or marinara sauce and keep it warm.
- When the meatloaf muffins are done cooking, set the oven to broil and broil until the panko topping is golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the perimeter of each well to loosen and remove the meatloaf muffins. Serve immediately with the tomato or marinara sauce.