Mexican Meatballs. Spur of the moment creation. I had some thawed ground beef in the fridge and some tomatillos that needed to be used and from that combination the idea was inspired. I grabbed some white onions (the most common onion used in Mexican cooking), a can of chipotles en adobo (gotta have chipotles), and some garlic. As I was gathering these ingredients I was reminded about a neat little technique I had read about used by well-known Mexican cook Margarita Carrillo de Salinas in which she places a little bit of hard-boiled egg in the center of each meatball. I decided to do that for this recipe, just to add to the fun. It was a nice little touch. The final touch: I made some homemade chorizo a while ago and froze it. Chorizo is ground pork mixed with various spices common to Mexican cuisine. Buy some quality chorizo from your local Latino market or well-stocked grocery store. Many meatball recipes call for a combination of beef and pork and for “Mexican Meatballs” I thought chorizo would be the perfect addition. It was.
The end result was very gratifying. Tender, juicy meatballs coated with a smoky, creamy roasted garlic, chipotle and tomatillo sauce.
Here’s how they go:
You’ll be roasting the tomatillos, garlic, and white onions.
Quarter one of the onions (the other onions is going to be diced and added to the meatball mixture), peel the husks off the tomatillos and wash them, and leave the garlic cloves in their peels. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle some olive oil over all of them. Heat the oven to 425 F and roast them until the skins are starting to blacken and blister, about 35-40 minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the oven. Squeeze the garlic from their peels.
Place the vegetables in a blender along with the beef broth, chipotles, salt and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Dice the other onion and chop the cilantro.
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, chorizo, onion, breadcrumbs, milk, egg, cilantro, oregano and pepper. Using your hands, knead the mixture together until thoroughly combined.
Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls, flatten, put a piece of hard-boiled egg in the center, and close the meat around it forming it back into a ball.
Repeat with each meatball.
Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the meatballs on all sides until browned.
Place the meatballs on paper towels to absorb the grease.
Pour the roasted tomatillos sauce into the large skillet and nestle the meatballs in the sauce. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add a little extra beef broth to thin the sauce as needed.
Serve with your choice of sides (e.g., crusty bread and a salad).
Recipe for Easy Homemade Chorizo
- 1 lb tomatillos, husks removed and washed
- 1 small white onion, quartered
- 1 small white onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peels left intact
- 2 chipotles en adobo (seeded if you prefer less spicy)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 lb ground beef
- ¼ lb chorizo, crumbled
- ¾ cup dried breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
- Chopped cilantro for garnishing
- Preheat the oven to 425. Place the onion quarters, tomatillos and unpeeled garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the vegetables until they begin to blacken and blister, about 35-40 minutes. Squeeze the garlic from the peels and discard the peels. Place the vegetables in a blender along with the beef broth, chipotles and ½ teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more salt to taste.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, chorizo, breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, oregano, salt, pepper and cilantro. Using your hands, knead the mixture until thoroughly combined. Form the meat mixture into 1-inch balls, flatten them and place a piece of hard-boiled egg, and close the meat around it to form back into a ball. Repeat for all meatballs. Makes about 30 meatballs.
- Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the meatballs on all sides until brown. Transfer the meatballs to paper towels to drain the grease. Pour the sauce into the large skillet and nestle the meatballs in the sauce. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add a little more beef broth as needed to think the sauce.
- Serve with your choice of sides (e.g. crusty bread and salad).
Inspired by Marilyn Tausend