Several years ago a Rick Bayless recipe for chipotle meatballs appeared in the Wednesday section of the New York Times. Fortunately we didn’t notice the recipe until a correction for it appeared in a subsequent paper, correcting the 2 cans of chipotle peppers the paper had published with the correct 2 chiles. We made the meatballs and loved them, but couldn’t help wincing over the idea of eating them made with 5 times as much chipotle!
We first published this recipe in 2006 and have since modified it a bit. This is the updated version. Excellent served with rice and/or tortillas. You could even serve the meatballs with spaghetti for a Tex Mex-ish version. It’s quite spicy and best accompanied with something cooling like sour cream and thinly sliced head lettuce.
- 2 slices bacon, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano or finely chopped fresh mint
- 1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder (or a couple teaspoons of adobo sauce)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-3 chipotles chiles in adobo (canned), minced fine and sauce reserved
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well with your clean hands for a minute or two. You want the mixture to be well integrated, but you don't want to overwork it or the meatballs will be tough.
2 With wet hands or an ice cream scoop, form meat into about 16 plum-size balls and space them out in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish, or, if you have one, a mini-muffin tin. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
3 While meatballs bake, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat and sauté the onions until they just start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the minced chipotles, the can of tomatoes, oregano or mint, and beef broth. Mix well and add salt to taste. If you want more chipotle flavor, add the reserved chipotle sauce spoonful by spoonful, mixing and tasting between spoonfuls. Boil the sauce uncovered as the meatballs cook.
4 When meatballs are ready, put them into the sauce and toss to coat. If the sauce is too thin for your taste, continue to boil it down for a few minutes. Otherwise, serve with rice, tortillas or polenta. Garnish with cilantro to serve.