Yay Sportsballs!

So, just in case you weren’t aware, I live in Denver, home of the Denver Broncos. I’m not a crazed fanatic about the team, or really, any team, but I mention this fact because some of you might be interested in one of the NFL teams which, along with the Broncos, will be participating in play-off games this weekend. Or, maybe you’re like me, and you really just pay attention to professional sports because watching them at home (yours or someone else’s) involves making or eating snacks.

I actually work at Sports Authority Field, where the Broncos will be playing the Colts on Sunday. I work for the catering company that cooks and serves the food to the folks in the suites for all home games, so I don’t really get to see much of what’s going on on the field. I’m typically very busy in a pantry somewhere helping to push out the food we’ve been cooking all week. However, if I were going to host or attend a watch party, these Chipotle Meatballs would be on the menu.

The original recipe comes from this book:

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It’s a great little book full of interesting recipes using authentic Mexican ingredients and cooking methods. My favorite chapter is the soup chapter, but the photos next to every recipe have been good enticement to want to make them. Details at the end of this post on how you can make this cookbook part of your collection. But first, we cook!

I’ve simplified the recipe I’m giving you here because I had limited time to cook, like many of you, and used a few shortcuts. The recipe in the book walks you through a few extra steps using more authentic ingredients for an entree version, but it’s still very approachable, as are all the recipes in the book. I took my batch of meatballs to a Rose Bowl party and they were a HUGE hit. I am pretty sure these would work just great in a slow cooker, too, if you wanted to make sure they stayed warm through the whole game. That is, if they last that long. Mine didn’t.

Equipment:

large pot
skillet
mixing bowl
knife and cutting board
spoon for stirring
tongs or a spatula for turning the meatballs (or just use the same spoon, like I did, because  have I mentioned how much I hate washing dishes?)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can of chipotles in adobo sauce
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped, then divide in half
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed, but kept whole
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme (or a small pinch of dried thyme, if that’s what you have)
1 lb lean ground pork
1 lb lean ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
Heat the oil in the pot on medium-low heat. Add 1/2 of the chopped onion and cook until just softened. Add the smashed garlic clove and cook until it just starts to become fragrant. Add both cans of crushed tomatoes and stir well. Add 2-3 whole chipotles (depending on how spicy you want your sauce to be) and about a tablespoon of the adobo sauce to the tomatoes, along with the thyme and bay leaf. Allow the sauce to simmer on low while you cook the meatballs.

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For the meatballs:

First of all, let me just say that I am not sure what kind of sorcery people use to keep their meatballs pretty and round when they cook them in a pan. If you know the magic, I applaud you. I have not mastered it, so please forgive the less than attractive shot of meatballs cooking. They taste delicious, and that’s how I forgive myself for not knowing how to make them pretty.

Anyhoo…

Combine the other half of the chopped onion, the minced garlic, the pork, and the ground beef in a mixing bowl. Add the egg, plus a generous pinch each of salt and pepper, and mix well. I’m not a huge fan of touching raw meat, but I think this is one of those times when you just want to get in there and mix with your hands. Use rubber gloves, if you want, but your hands are definitely the best tools you have for this particular step.

Form the mixture into umm… the book recipe says “chestnut sized” balls. Mine were somewhere between a large marble and a ping pong ball. I couldn’t remember exactly how big a chestnut is, so I just made meatball sized looking meatballs.

Brown the meatballs in a pan until they’re just cooked through. You’ll need to cook them in batches so as not to crowd the pan.

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As each batch is done, just add them to the sauce you have simmering over there.

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When all the meatballs are browned and in the sauce, bring it to a boil for about a minute, and then let the whole thing simmer on low for at least 20 minutes (but as long as 35 or 40), stirring occasionally.

And that’s that! You could serve this as the book suggests, as an entree over rice, or just bring them to the party as they are… maybe with some little rolls or slider buns or mini-tortillas. Both the sauce and the meatballs are so full of flavor, they don’t really need much garnish.

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And now, for the giveaway details. All you need to do to enter is answer this question:

What is your biggest recipe/cookbook pet peeve?

Mine is when the ingredients list includes a lot of specialty items that are expensive or difficult to source.

Leave your answer in the comments section to be entered. I’ll draw the winner next Wednesday, January 14th.

This giveaway is not sponsored by or affiliated with the authors or the publisher, Barnes & Noble New York. Winner will be notified on the I’m Gonna Cook That Facebook page, on the I’m Gonna Cook That Twitter account, and of course, here on the blog. The winner will have 3 days to respond or the prize is forfeit. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.

 

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