Chicken & Broccoli Meatball Subs With Apple Giardiniera

October  4, 2022
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Alexis Anthony
  • Prep time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 4 giant sandwiches
Author Notes

Growing up, my mother cooked dinner for our family most nights. On the rare occasions when my parents went out, we either ate pizza or got Chinese food. Because of this, chicken and broccoli has consistently been one of the most important relationships in my life. This sandwich harnesses that magic, tops it with a spicy apple giardiniera (an Italian relish of pickled vegetables, which you can make milder by using green bell pepper instead of jalapeño), and rounds it out with mayo and cilantro. But feel free to skip the sandwich and just eat these meatballs, an amazing snack straight out of the refrigerator.

From Dynamite Chicken: 60 Never-Boring Recipes For Your Favorite Bird (Ten Speed Press, 2019) —Tyler Kord

What You'll Need
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Chicken & Broccoli Meatball Subs With Apple Giardiniera
  • Apple Giardiniera
  • 1 cup (240ml) water
  • 1 cup (240ml) rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 bulb fennel
  • 2 Gala or Fuji apples
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed
  • Chicken & Broccoli Meatballs and Subs
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound (450g) ground chicken, or 11 ⁄4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (570g), for grinding
  • 1/2 cup (30g) panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 hero rolls, split lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  1. To make the giardiniera, combine the water, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the salt, 2 teaspoons of the maple syrup, the star anise, and the bay leaves in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, thinly slice the fennel, apples, and jalapeño, and place into a nonreactive container. Pour the brine over the mixture and set aside to cool. Once cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 weeks.
  2. Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Roughly chop the broccoli. On a rimmed sheet pan, toss together the broccoli, garlic, and oil. Roast for 15 minutes, or until the broccoli is caramelized but still crunchy.
  3. Meanwhile, grind the chicken if not using preground. To grind it yourself, cut the boneless thigh meat into even 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces. Working in small batches, place it in your food processor and pulse to finely chop but avoid turning it into a mousse. Transfer the chicken to a mixing bowl.
  4. Once the broccoli is caramelized, transfer it to the food processor and pulse to chop. Place it in the mixing bowl with the chicken and add the panko, egg, Parmesan, salt, and maple syrup. Mix well.
  5. Grease the sheet pan with olive oil or cooking spray. Form 12 even meatballs, approximately 1 inch (2.5cm) in size, and spread them out on the tray. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through, or until the meatballs are cooked through, firm to the touch, and not at all pink.
  6. To assemble the subs, spread mayo on both sides of the hero rolls. Halve all of the meatballs and arrange them in the rolls. Top with a little giardiniera (avoiding the bay leaves) and a lot of cilantro, stems and all!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • frecklywench
  • gingerroot
  • Gigi
  • Tyler Kord
    Tyler Kord

9 Reviews

Jessamin October 3, 2023
This was excellent. I parlayed the meatball mixture into burgers, but followed everything else. Was skeptical about the giardiniera, but all of these flavors combined work really harmoniously.
frecklywench October 19, 2020
I loved this apple giardiniera—didn't end up making the meatballs, but used the apples on grilled cheese and loved it!
Tyler K. October 19, 2020
Anna D. November 1, 2019
Delicious recipe! The meatballs are so good on their own - incredibly healthy and nutritious. The flavor combination with the giardiniera and cilantro is magnificent. I could see this been equally as tasty with ground turkey. Will absolutely add this to my weekly rotation.
gingerroot October 20, 2019
Made these meatballs with ground turkey (what I had on hand) and served with steamed rice and swiss chard goma ae. The meatballs are delicious and will enter the weekly rotation.
Tyler K. October 20, 2019
You are completely excellent.
beth October 15, 2019
Thank you! This evening, we tried this recipe. Sliced the meatballs and used fennel seeds and cloves since we didn’t have star anise, but otherwise followed recipe. Wonderful mix of flavors!
Tyler K. October 15, 2019
Gigi October 15, 2019
I love the mixing bowl he used!! :D