Pork Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce

CHIPOTLE MEATBALLSWhen the weather gets cold, I love a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. So, when I saw this recipe on a PBS show (Everyday Food), I thought it was an interesting twist. I love the unique flavor the chipotles provide, and it gives the traditional spaghetti and meatballs a different personality.

I personally love to bake the meatballs vs. frying them in a skillet (I tend to get a better shape and overall cooking temperature). But, this recipe would work either way (it was originally written for pan frying). I also cut back on the onion (1/2 an onion vs. a full onion) because it seemed like a lot in comparison to the meat. But, feel free to add more!

PORK MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE SAUCE
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/2 medium onion, coarsely grated and squeezed firmly to remove excess liquid
1 small zucchini, coarsely grated and squeezed firmly to remove excess liquid
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 to 2 chipotle chiles in adobo
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cooked rice and chopped fresh cilantro, for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine pork, onion, zucchini, egg, breadcrumbs, oregano, cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; mix well with a fork. Form into 16 (2-inch) balls; transfer to a plate, and place in freezer until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and chiles in a blender; process until smooth, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook until brown, turning often, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining oil and meatballs. Or, preheat oven to 375-400 and place meatballs on jelly roll pan. Bake until cooked almost all the way through.

Add pureed sauce and return all meatballs to a skillet on medium low (the same skillet you cooked the meatballs in if you pan fried them). Cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Uncover, and simmer until sauce is thickened, 5 to 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro, as desired.

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