When it comes to heat, Americans have truly embraced higher levels on the Scoville scale. Jalapeños are now as common as bell peppers.
As Tex-Mex food continues to capture an even greater audience across the country and even abroad, smoke-dried jalapeños, or chipotles, have come into their own. The chiles are typically canned whole and packed in adobo sauce, but a pureed form is also available.
Chipotles are a natural seasoning for the sauce served with these Mexican meatballs. These flavorful appetizers in a chipotle-tomato sauce are enlivened with corn kernels, tortilla chips, herbs, and spices.
Yield: 20 meatballs
Prep time: about 40 minutes
Shelf life: Several days when refrigerated in the sauce
- Non-stick vegetable spray
- ⅓ cup finely crushed tortilla chips
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion, plus 1/2 cup chopped onion for the sauce
- ½ tablespoon finely chopped garlic, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic for the sauce
- 3 tablespoons grated cotija cheese, plus cotija cheese to garnish the meatballs
- 7 ounces each ground beef and ground pork
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup canned or defrosted corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
- 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle in adobo
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves Chopped cilantro leaves, to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick vegetable spray.
- In the jar of a food processor, combine the tortilla chips, 1/4 cup onion, 1/2 tablespoon garlic, and 3 tablespoons cotija cheese; pulse to blend. Add the beef and pork, egg, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste; pulse to blend. Add the corn and pulse to blend. Roll the mixture into 1-ounce balls and place them on the pan. Bake until just cooked through, 13 to 15 minutes.
- While the meatballs bake, heat the oil in a large skillet. Sauté the remaining 1/2 cup of onion until limp, stir in the remaining garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, chipotle, and about 1/4 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce and simmer until heated through. Serve garnished with the remaining cheese and cilantro.