mint and chipotle meatballs + garlic zucchini

22 Apr

Wondering what you should do with all those extra chipotles in adobo sauce from making the Chipotle Chicken? Well here you go! I’ve been itching to use mint, as it’s kind of the unofficial (or official, maybe, I don’t know!) herb of spring. I bought myself a cute little windowsill pot of mint and I’ve been dutifully watering it in anticipation of just such a dish as this. Smoky, spicy chipotle peppers contrast with that wonderful fresh taste of mint. I didn’t exactly have the amount that the original recipe called for, because I didn’t have the heart to strip the little burgeoning plant of all of its leaves, but the amount still did the trick. Feel free to use the amount I did for any mint-phobes you might have living in your house. You can definitely taste it, but it’s subtle so you might not put your finger on it if you didn’t know it was in there.

Zucchini is a vegetable that is another great “hello, warm weather” ingredient. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now and it’s so versatile. Usually, though, I just cut it in thin medallions and stir fry with a little salt and pepper. Then, when it’s grill season, I cut it in half lengthwise and grill to perfection. This recipe was a nice deviation. Little zucchini chunks simmered in a garlicky sauce.



Since I’ve already featured meatballs on this site made with buffalo, you can pretend that I’m not doing it again. The original recipe called for pork, but I didn’t want to go to the store for that when I had buffalo in the fridge. Beef would work too, of course. And what does the type of ground meat matter, really, when bacon is involved? I’m not sure there’s a meatball I would ever make that didn’t involve bacon. Or a meatloaf, or a hamburger…

mint and chipotle meatballs
adapted from recipes from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday

3 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, divided
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup loosely packed coarsely chopped mint leaves (I had about 1/4 – 1/3 cup)
1 pound ground pork (or buffalo, as I used)
2 14.5 ounce cans of diced fire roasted tomatoes
2-3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, stemmed and seeded (leave some seeds if you like it spicy)
1-2 tablespoons sauce from the canned chiles
1 teaspoon oregano (Mexican, if you have it)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, add bacon and 1 garlic clove and process until combined. It’ll turn into a bacon ball, that’s okay. Next, add the eggs, salt, and mint and pulse to mix. If you have a large food processor, you can add the pork. Otherwise, mix the meat and the food processor mixture together in a bowl.

2. In a 9 x 13 baking pan, place plum-sized meatballs. I made 18. Bake for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In the same food processor (rinse it out), combine 1 can (or both if your processor is large enough) tomatoes, chipotle peppers, chipotle sauce, oregano, remaining 2 garlic cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. If you did one can of tomatoes, you can process the second one after pouring the pureed sauce in a bowl. I didn’t, I just combined it afterward.

4. After the 15 minutes, take the meatballs out of the oven. Pour the tomato sauce over them. Bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce will thicken. If it’s too thick you can add a little chicken broth. Mine was just fine though.

garlic zucchini
Make this while the meatballs are cooking.

2 zucchinis, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, pressed
1 cup chicken broth

1. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the zucchini and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is a light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.

3. Add the broth and cook until it’s reduced, about 5 minutes. Scrape up any stuck on bits of garlic. The zucchini should still have some crunch when you’re done cooking.

Serve the meatballs with spoonfuls of the sauce. You can sprinkle on more mint if you have it. I crumbled on queso fresco and served it with some slices of ripe avocado alongside the zucchini. I hope you can enjoy this great summery dish on a warm night!

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