Oh man...words do not express how freakin' excited I am to try this dinner tonight!!! Months and months ago when I was holding the Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday cookbook hostage from the library I saw this chipotle meatball recipe in it. Sounded good and then I thought, "Hmmm...you could probably make a Mexican version of a meatball sandwich with those." And then the idea just had to sit in my brain for a long, long time. I don't know why I haven't made this sooner given my excitement for it!!
So, first I'll post the recipe from his cookbook and then how I'm doing my sandwich take on it after the recipe.
Rick Bayless' Chipotle Meatballs
Copyright 2005, Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday
3 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled (divided use)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (3/4 cup if they're the coarse-textured panko)
1-1/4 pounds ground pork
1/2 cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped mint leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish if you wish
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
1-2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, stemmed and seeded
1-2 Tbsp chipotle canning sauce
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
About 1-1/2 cups beef or chicken broth
Turn on the oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, combine the bacon and 1 garlic clove. Process until finely chopped. Add the eggs, bread crumbs, and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse several times to combine thoroughly, then add the pork and mint. Pulse the machine a ew more times until everything is well combined--but not at all processed into a paste. Remove the blade.
With wet hands, form the meat into 16 plum-size spheres, spacing them out in a 13x9 inch baking dish. Bake until lightly browned (they'll be browned more underneath than on top), about 15 minutes.
While the meatballs are baking, combine the tomatoes, with their juice, chipotles, canning sauce, oregano, the remaining 2 garlic cloves (cut in half) and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor. Process to a smooth puree.
When the meatballs are ready, spoon off any rendered fat from the baking dish, then pour on the tomato mixture, covering the meatballs evenly. Bake until the sauce looks like tomato paste, 15 to 20 minutes.
Microwave the broth for about a minute to heat it (or heat in a small saucepan). Divide the meatballs among four dinner plates, leaving most of the sauce behind. Stir enough broth into the sauce to give it an easily spoonable consistency. Taste and season with additional salt if you think the sauce needs it. Spoon the sauce over the meatballs, decorate with extra mint leaves, if you wish, and serve.
My mouth started to water a bit there while I was typing out the recipe. Rick has yet to do me wrong, so I cannot wait to try this! The only substitution I'm making is to use ground beef instead of pork. I have 1.5 pounds of ground beef left in my freezer, and I gave the husband a couple options that I could do with it, and this is what he chose. We're trying to get back to no (or very little) red meat, so we won't be having anything like this for awhile.
So, now my sandwich take on them. These sounded really similar to meatballs in marinara my friend Laura makes and then uses for meatball sandwiches. So I thought why couldn't I do a Mexican version, using this sauce instead of marinara, and queso fresco instead of mozzarella. So that's what we're having for dinner tonight! I was telling my friend Jen about these last night when I talked to her, and she thought they sounded awesome, too. She suggested putting avocado or guacamole on them, too. I do have an avocado that needs to be used up, so I might try that and see how it is.
I can't wait to report back to you on how these turn out!!
Oh man...oh MAN!!! I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Rick Bayless is a god among men, or at least when it comes to food. These meatballs were AMAZING. The sandwiches were so-so, but I think that's mostly because I forgot to toast or somehow heat up the sandwich rolls before assembling. Oops. They were so filling, too. Neither of us finished the sandwich.
I ended up using one chipotle pepper and a few spoonfuls of the canning sauce because I didn't want it to end up too spicy. I figured better to start with less and then go from there if I needed to, but I think that was just the right amount for our taste. Smokey with a little heat but not overpowering.
I loved the hint of bacon and mint in the meatballs. The flavor was fantastic and captivating. The smokey sauce really added to them as well. This is something I will definitely make again, although since we're giving up ground beef for awhile I may try them with ground turkey, or I'm hoping to get a food grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer for my birthday, so if I do I could grind up a lean cut of pork and make them that way. As it was I used 93% lean ground beef, and they turned out fine. Oh, my food processor was not going to be big enough to add the meat with the bacon/bread crumbs/egg/garlic mixture, so I added the mint in with all that and then combined that mixture with the ground beef in a bowl and mixed it by hand.
Just thinking about them makes me want to go over to the fridge and have one cold!
(I took pictures, but they're on my phone, so I'll upload them later.)