Porcupine Meatballs in a fantastic Chipotle Sauce that's perfect for an easy dinner or for a delicious party appetizer.
It's hard to believe but this is the first meatball recipe I've shared. Which is sort of strange considering I have meatball recipes coming out my ears. And considering that Porcupine Meatballs are one of my favorite things to make.
Have you heard of Porcupine Meatballs? They're really any type of meatball, any seasonings you like, with one exception: the meatballs are formed with uncooked rice. This means that they pretty much have to be simmered in some type of sauce (although it's a rare meatball that isn't) so that the rice cooks through. Personally, I like them with the rice just a tad undercooked; I enjoy the little crunchy bits. They're called Porcupine Meatballs because, as the rice cooks, it starts to poke out through the meat, often looking like little quills on a porcupine. To me they just look like dinner :)
The chipotle sauce that I've created here is, in my humble opinion, to die for. It has just five ingredients (minus the chopped cilantro sprinkled over the top) but that's all it needs. It would be a great candidate for a slow cooker, too.
You'll get approximately a dozen Porcupine Meatballs from this recipe which is enough for a family of four for dinner with a salad and bread. If you're making them for a party, I'd scale up to however many you think you'll need and cook them in a large Dutch oven or slow-cooker. They'd be great over pasta, too, especially with some sliced roasted jalapenos and a little melted cheese.
For the Chipotle Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 28- ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
- 1-3 chipotle peppers from a can in adobo sauce, start with one, add more to taste
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
For the Meatballs
- 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
- 1 egg
- 1/4 sweet onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pound ground beef
Make the Sauce
- Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic and ground cumin, cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently (turn down heat if garlic starts to brown).
- Place onion mixture along with tomatoes and peppers into a blender or food processor; blend until very smooth. Set aside.
Make the Meatballs
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together all meatball ingredients except for ground beef. Once well-mixed, add ground beef and combine thoroughly (but do not overmix).
- Wipe out skillet and place back on burner over medium heat. Add meatballs and brown well on all sides (do this in batches if necessary so you don't overcrowd the pan which will steam the meatballs rather than allow them to brown). Pour sauce over meatballs in skillet; bring to a strong simmer then reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Cover skillet and simmer an additional 15 minutes or until meatballs and rice are cooked through. Season sauce to taste, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve.