Tex-Mex Meatballs

Kick up the Italian favorite with chipotle and spices.

  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
  • 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 16 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 4 hero rolls, sliced lengthwise (optional)

  1. To cook meatballs in the oven: Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium mixing bowl, combine ground beef, 1 cup cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, cumin, jalapeño and egg. Season with salt and pepper. Do not over mix. Divide into 12 meatballs and place in a casserole dish. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and chipotle peppers and season with salt and pepper. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes, then add meatballs. Turn heat to low and gently toss meatballs with sauce. Garnish with parsley.
  3. To cook meatballs in the skillet: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add meatballs in a single layer and sear on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. When the meatballs have developed a nice crust, remove them from the skillet.
  4. Add more olive oil to the skillet, if necessary, then add onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes and chipotle pepper in adobo and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and add meatballs back to skillet. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  5. Cover meatballs with 1 cup cheese, then cover the skillet again and cook until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley.
  6. Make sandwiches: Preheat oven to 350° (if you haven't already). Place parchment paper on a rimmed sheet pan and arrange hero rolls cut side up. Place 3 meatballs on the bottom piece of each hero roll. Top with a spoonful of tomato sauce and a handful of cheese. Bake until bread is warmed and cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Top meatballs with parsley and more tomato sauce. Close the sandwich top and serve warm.


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