chipotle mint meatballs

I've had a lot of stories to tell recently. I've told you about Bagna cauda and Piemonte, about Venice and monks who grow roses and then make rose petal jam, about Mexico and hot chocolate and about Texas and grapefruit. But since all that travel and the time that it takes to transform memories of a trip into a recipe, things have been rather quiet as of late. I've just been waiting for spring and its white asparagus and wild garlic. That and I've been resisting the urge to bake carrot cake every second day. 

Today I don't have a story. I just have a recipe, one that I like so much that I've made it a couple times the past few weeks. Chipotle Mint Meatballs. The recipe really embraces the chipotle in the title so this recipe is for those people who like it hot. However, the mint cools things down a bit. It somehow tastes both spicy and fresh and is exactly the kind of food that I crave this time of year when one season is slowly turning into another.

The inspiration for this recipe come from The New York Times' version of a recipe from Rick Bayless' "Mexican Everyday". My version preserves the magic that is spicy chipotle and fresh mint, but I turn both up a notch. I've halved the recipe, but both the amount of chipotle and mint stay the same. I've also skipped the bacon and the ground pork and have gone 100% beef when it comes to the meat. Also, the original recipe calls for broth to thin out the tomato sauce and to make it more of a sauce. I didn't find this necessary and I like the spicy, thick tomato sauce just as is. I recommend serving the meatballs with some brown rice and a generous handful of chopped mint or cilantro on top. Crispy sweet potato fries with chermoula make a nice side as well. If you want to combat the fire of the chipotle, whip up a yogurt sauce similar to chermoula with lots of cilantro but with fresh mint instead of parsley. 

Chipotle Mint Meatballs

adapted from the NY Times (from "Mexican Everyday" by Rick Bayless)

serves 2


400 g ground beef
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 egg
1/3 cup panko
sea salt
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves, roughly chopped, plus more to garnish
1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo
1 400 g can whole tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 450 F /  232 C / gas mark 8.

Finely chop one garlic clove and set the other two aside. Place the garlic in a mixing bowl and add the egg, panko and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir until combined. Add the chopped mint and the ground beef and, using your hands, mix well.

Once well mixed, form eight equally sized meatballs and place them in a small baking dish. You want to make sure that the dish is big enough so that each meatball is in direct contact with the bottom of the dish (so no overlapping), but no so big that later the sauce won't completely cover them (as that is what you'll be doing shortly). Bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes or until they are lightly browned. 

While the meatballs are browning, prepare the sauce. In a blender add the chipotle chiles, the other cloves of garlic, the tomatoes and 4 tbsp of sauce from the canned tomatoes and 1/4 tsp salt. Blend until completely smooth. 

Once the meatballs have browned, remove them from the oven and spoon off any excess fat in the pan. Pour the sauce over the meatballs so that the meatballs are evenly covered and then return to the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce has somewhat thickened. 

Divide the meatballs between two plates, preferably with a generous side of rice, and spoon the tomato sauce over the meatballs. Garnish with some fresh mint.


Eileen  – (March 12, 2013 at 10:54 PM)  

Mint in a meatball? What a great idea! These almost sound like kofte, with all the herbs everywhere. :)

Regine Karpel  – (March 12, 2013 at 11:57 PM)  

These look great!

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