Albondigas en Chipotle de Tubac
Inspired by a plate of albondigas we savored in Tubac Arizona. Not quite traditional.. but full of Sonoran flavors. Roasted fresh Baja Az heirloom tomatoes make this dish magical, but good canned roasted tomatoes could also work. The rich sauce is infused with red wine and smokey chipotles, with a touch of chocolate and cinnamon because, well, I couldnt resist! Slow cooking to finish in the crock pot lets the flavors really develop, low and slow.
- Albongigas (meatballs):
- 3 slices bacon, chopped into chunks
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 lb good local mexican ground loose chorizo, pork or beef
- 1/2 cup fresh mint and or basil..or a combo
- 1 tsp salt
- 2-3 lbs ripe tomatoes- or 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 onion sliced
- garlic cloves, as many as you like
- 2-3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
- 2-3 TBS chipotle(adobo) sauce from the can
- 2 TBS EVoo (extra virgin olive oil)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/4 c sherry or 1 tsp sugar or honey
- a handfull of semi sweet chocolate chips (or Mexican chocolate if you have it!)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- dash of ground cloves
- salt to taste
- fresh chopped cilantro to garnish
Slice the tomatoes and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle a tiny bit of EVOO over and sprinkle with a little salt. Place in a 450 oven and roast for 20-25 minutes... meanwhile
Make the albondigas:
place the bacon and garlic cloves in a food processor and whiz. Add the eggs and bread crumbs, whiz again. Add the ground chorizo and tukey, mint and/or basil and 1 tsp salt. Whiz to combine all but dont overdo it into a paste. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. Scoop 1/2 of this meat mixture into a ziplock baggie and freeze for easy albondigas later! Set bowl aside. Clean out the food processor.
Remove the roasted tomatoes from the oven when they are ready and scrape them and all their juices into the clean food processor. Clean off the baking sheet that had the tomatoes on it and oil it lightly for roasting the meatballs. Roll large spoonfulls of meat mixture into meatballs about the size of a golf or ping pong ball. Place them on the baking sheet. Roast in the same 450 oven for 15 minutes. Turn them and roast an additional 10 minutes.
While the meatballs roast: Add the onion and garlic to the food processor with your roasted tomatoes. Whiz to chop well. Add the chipotles and the adobo sauce plus 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar. Whiz to a nice thin paste consisitancy.
On the stove top, heat 2 TBS EVOO. When oil is hot, add the tomato/ chipotle mixture. It will sputter and pop. This is good. Stand by with a wooden flat spoon or sturdy spatula and let the sauce cook for 5 minutes or so, undisturbed, to develope that wonderful dark crud underneath. Stir well and continue to cook, letting the crud keep forming and then scraping it up for about another 20-25 minutes total. This is where the flavor deepens! Manage the heat and your stirring so it doesnt burn.. just keep developing that rich brown crud, then scrape it up smooth it out, and wait for it to form again.... now add the chicken broth and stir to deglaze. Add the red wine and sherry. Stir and let cook 5 minutes or so. Add the cinnamon, cloves and handfull of chocolate. Stir to melt the chocolate. Season with salt as needed. Turn off heat.
Your meatballs are probably done now. Remove from oven and place them into the crock pot. Pour the cooked sauce over and stir gently to combine.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours or more until soft and cooked through.
Stir in or garnish with chopped fresh cilantro at the end and serve with crushed chiltipin on the side for those who like the extra heat!