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Delicata Squash Boats With Spicy Chicken Balls And Mozzarella & #CareToFarm15

In the words of Joel McHale from The Soup, Let's talk about chicks, man!

Did I grab your attention? I hope so.

Last week I flew to Greenville, North Carolina courtesy of Phibro to learn about chickens. My transportation, hotel and meals were taken care of. All I had to do was show up, learn, eat, and mingle with other bloggers. I was excited, but also a bit nervous.

I'm a city girl. What do I know about raising chickens? Honestly, not much. It was only a few months ago that I had to ask my good friend Era who has her own chickens how they have fresh eggs without having a rooster. I'm not even kidding!

In case you are as clueless as I was, you don't need a rooster to get an egg (the kind of egg you buy at the grocery store or farmers market and turn into an omelet or egg salad, etc). If you want the type of an egg that will eventually turn into a little chick and then a grown chicken, you need a rooster. To fertilize the egg.

Easy enough.

Phibro is a company in the business of taking care of animals. We met with the Senior Vice President of Phibro, Warren Harper, and veterinarian Leah Dorman, just to name a few. I was amazed at how passionate these two were about doing their best to provide the best life for chickens (before we ate them!).

If you are a vegetarian, I guess you can skip this post.

During the trip we visited a hatchery and saw the process of how eggs are hatched. I loved how clean the facility was and how every aspect was controlled: the temperature, the humidity, the rotation of the eggs.  We also saw the little chicks after they hatched. I even held one! That was a big step for me.

The little chicks were vaccinated: that's to protect them. By the time we eventually consume the chickens, there is no trace of vaccine in them.

The next step was for the little chicks to go to the poultry farm. I was a bit nervous that we'll be inside a house with a zillion chickens on top of one another. That was not the case at all. Instead, the little chicks had plenty of space, monitored food and water, and again controlled heat, humidity, etc.

They were really well taken care of.

After I came home, I decided to make a recipe using ground chicken. You could also use pork or turkey. It's up to you.

Delicata Squash Boats With Spicy Chicken Balls And Mozzarella
Makes 4

2 delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg
1/4 cup panko
2 tablespoons half & half
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce {use less if you don't like spicy food}
8 basil leaves, chopped
14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
20 tiny mozzarella balls, or use 1 cup shredded mozzarella
garnish: basil leaves
side: rice

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place delicata squash cut side up into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 50 minutes.
2. In a bowl, combine ground chicken, egg, panko crumbs, chipotle, adobo sauce, half & half, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Make meatballs. I made 12.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown the chicken meatballs until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove from the skillet.
4. Add tomato sauce into the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add back the meatballs and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
5. Once the squash is roasted, add meatballs into the "boats" making sure to cover them with tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella and bake for 10 more minutes until the cheese has melted.
6. Serve with fresh basil and a side of rice.

These were really great and reheat well as leftovers. The skin of the delicata squash gets soft enough during the roasting process to eat.

Disclosure: The trip accommodations were paid by Phibro. I'm not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.