Chicken and Fennel Meatballs


Where does time go, I cannot believe it’s been so long since I last wrote an entry. I am still creating and eating new recipes and I have been visiting new and exciting restaurants and I’m even reading a lot on food in general. I’ve even written a lot, but something always seems to drag my attention away.

Two of the biggest distractions have been ill health and training for the Brighton Marathon. I am really pleased that I’ve had my running because I’ve been having big issues trying to stop taking some really nasty painkillers. I’ve learnt a VERY important lesson when it comes to taking painkillers. Ensure you read up on them, before, during and after taking them. I’ve had some horrible and nasty withdrawal symptoms coming off Tramadol and Dihydrocodiene. I would even say that the withdrawal was worse than the pain I was taking them for. If you have been taking either of these pills for a long period of time ensure you talk to your doctor before coming off them (this is just my personal opinion and you should speak to a qualified doctor before, during and after taking these tablets).

As I mentioned I am doing the Brighton marathon on April 19th 2013 and it’s been a struggle exercising, but food has been a great help. One thing about running is you need a lot of carbohydrates and protein and this recipe supplies both, the carbs in the wholewheat pasta and the protein in lean chicken, not only that it’s low in fat and full in flavour. This is my first marathon and I am doing it for The Food Chain, seems appropriate as this blog is about food. Its a small charity, that is purely run by donation as it gets no government or local council funding. It’s provides food and nutritional education, as well as group meals for people that are HIV+ and there families. Food is very important in keep the immune system healthy which is vital with people with HIV, it’s also help negate the effects of some very nasty retroviral drugs they have to take. There is still a lot of stigma regarding HIV and the group meals are a good way for isolated people to be able to come together for support.

If you would like to help me raise £1,000 you can donate at If you cannot donate but you have some spare time you can volunteer or just want more information about the charity you can at

There are two stages to this recipe, the sauce, which is a basic Italian tomato and basil sauce and the meatballs. I started with the sauce first as the longer it has to cook the better and the meatballs only need cooking for about 20 minutes in the sauce.

Tomato and Basil Sauce

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 1tbsb tomato purée
  • 2 tbsb chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (possible sugar to sweeten)


  • 500g chicken mince
  • 1 onion, finely grated and water removed
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb – finely grated
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Freshly chopped basil for garnish

Place a saucepan an the stove, add the oil and onion and gently fry for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and again gently fry until the onion and garlic are soft.

Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, basil and season to taste and cook for a minimum of 20 minutes. I will advise that the longer you cook it the better. Sometimes I’ve added a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten it a little.

Whilst the sauce is cooking, place the chicken mince into a bowl.

Take the grated onion and squeeze as much liquid out of the onion as you can. I should warn that it will hurt the eyes more than just slicing them, and add it to the chicken mince.

Squeeze most of the liquid out of the fennel, but not as much as the onion, so keep a little moisture and again add to the chicken mince.

Add salt and pepper to season and mix all the ingredients together and then roll out between 10-15 meatballs.

Take the oil and place in the frying pan and bring to a high heat. Add a few meatballs at a time and brown each meatball all over.

Once browned remove and add some more. Once complete add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook for about 20 minutes.

Serve with any pasta, but I would recommend wholewheat pasta as it’s add a nice nutty flavour. When plated up sprinkle on some freshly chopped/ripped basil.

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About Keifer Derrin

Having worked in IT for over 20 years, Keifer Derrin quit his job to do something new. Not claiming to be a Gordon, Heston or even a Delia, Keifer’s passion for all kinds of food includes trying out new recipes whether they take 10 minutes or 8 hours to prepare. He also enjoys eating out - anything from The Ledbury to Pizza Express and even a local greasy spoon! Keifer also does voluntary work for the Food Chain, a charity that supplies food, meals & nutritional education to people who are HIV+. Check out his food blog at
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