I recently came across a cookbook that collected recipes from home cooks around the state of Zacatecas, a state right in the center of Mexico. The book, La Cocina Familiar en el Estado de Zacatecas, has a delicious variety of foods including this recipe from Ana Ma. Sánchez de Alatorre for Albóndigas en chipotle. There are many chipotle meatball recipes, but this one is a little unique. It add a little surprise in the middle and invites squash and carrots to the party!
While the recipe was not very specific, I tried to make it work for me here in Wisconsin, 1,800 miles northeast of Zacatecas. And they were delicious! I even made meatball sandwiches with the leftovers. They would also make a great filling for enchiladas!
ZACATECAS: Albóndigas en Chipotle (Chipotle Meatballs)
½ bolillo, or 2 slices of white bread, torn to small pieces
½ cup milk
1 ¼ pounds ground beef
1 can (4.25 ounces) jamón endiablado (deviled ham spread)
1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into 12 pieces
½ medium white onion, chopped
3 zucchini squash, cut into small strips
3 carrots, cut into small strips
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1-2 chipotle chiles en adobo
1 tablespoon adobo from the chipotle chiles (the sauce)
1 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
1 – 1 ½ cups chicken or beef broth or water
1 – 2 tablespoons grape seed or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl, place the bread with the milk and let it soak for 15 – 20 minutes. Drain the bread before using.
In a large bowl, place the ground beef and mix in the egg, soaked bread, jamón endiablado (deviled ham), mint, salt and pepper. Form 12 meatballs, placing a piece of the hard-boiled egg in the middle and set them aside.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large oven-safe pan and bring to medium heat.
Place the meatballs in the same pan and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Add more oil if necessary. Set the meatballs aside.
Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook until just translucent. Add the zucchini and carrots strips. Cook over medium heat for about 8 – 10 minutes.
Place the garlic, diced tomatoes, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce and oregano in a blender or food processor. Blend well, but you can keep it a little chunky if that is what you like. Add the sauce to the vegetables in the pan. Saute the sauce for 5 minutes and add a cup of the broth or water. Bring to a simmer and add the meatballs.
Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until the sauce gets nice and thick. Remove from the oven and let them rest 5 – 10 minutes.
Serve and garnish with more mint leaves.
NOTE: I could not find jamón endiablado, so I used Deviled Ham Spread instead.