21 September 2012

Chipotle meatballs in rich tomato sauce - definitely "spicy meatballs", mama!

Of all the products that Sainsbury's kindly sent me to try, the Chipotle Paste from the Speciality Ingredients range has been the one to cause the most deliberation.

I pondered for what felt like ages upon what to do with it, as I felt I should be thinking of something a little out of the ordinary.  Chipotle chillies have a particular flavour, as they are not only fairly spicy but are smoked and the drying process seems to bring out their sweetness.  So something that might make people think "oh! I didn't think of doing that!" would be good.  None of my deliberations struck me as being particularly exciting though - and I figure that if I'm not excited about it, neither will anyone else be.

I may have been smarting a little from the shock news that none of my meatballs have ever found particular favour with hubby.  Yes, he's eaten them and they've been okay on occasion, but never particularly nice.  *blink*  Well, that came as something of a surprise - until he elaborated and declared that there was always "too much garlic" in them.  Mhmnn!  Yes, I will admit, I have had some very garlicky moments (*burp* Pardon!) following on from my meatballs in the past.

So the desire to put my meatball problems to bed, was right up there on the "things I need to do" list - and meatballs kept on jumping up and down and waving at me, every time I thought about the chipotle paste.  So I gave in.

The next thing, was to decide what to do with the chipotle meatballs.  Do I go down the Mexican route and do a kind of chipotle meatball chilli con carne?  Yawn.  Dull.  Okay, so who else uses meatballs in their cuisine?  Aha!  The Italians do.  So, could smoky chipotle meatballs combine with an Italian style pasta dish?  (After all, there is the Amatriciana line of dishes).  Oh yes it can, especially if you think a little outside the box and head to America for your Italian pasta dish!

Spicy meatballs, mama!

(It'd be best if you could say that in an American/Italian accent, okay?  Good).

Chipotle Meatballs in a rich tomato sauce.  Holy macaroni, I think I'm onto something.

I decided to use a combination of pork & beef mince for the meatballs, as I felt the beef would be too strong a flavour and purely pork would be too weak a flavour.  Asda have a "cheap as chips" combination of pork & beef that is in their economy range and at £1.56 for 500g, you just can't go wrong.  Yes, the mince carries a quite high percentage of fat - but that was exactly what I was wanting for these meatballs, as I felt they needed to be juicy - and fat does that for a meatball.

When it came to making the meatballs, it couldn't get any easier.  Take a jar of Sainsbury's Speciality Ingredients Chipotle Paste and decant just over half the jar into a bowl.  Add the mince and scrunch together, then roll into small meatballs.  I made 26 from the 500g.  Now don't be tempted to put any more than half the jar into the mix - not without first dunking the tip of a teaspoon into the jar and tasting.  I guarantee you won't be overdoing the paste after that - because this stuff is dynamite!  Lovely dynamite, but pretty darned explosive all the same.

A pan full of spicy meatballs - mama mia!

I had decided to seal the meatballs in the frying pan before finishing them off in the sauce, as they would provide a great base flavour for the sauce and the majority of the fat would be rendered that way, whilst leaving them succulent and juicy.  In fact, an enormous amount of fat came from them and I spooned away all but a dessertspoonful into the dogs' bowls.  They were happy about that!

I then removed the meatballs to one side and started the sauce in the remaining meatball fat.  I didn't do anything particularly special with the sauce, except for adding some sliced mushrooms and all the usual flavour builders like tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, fresh Basil and a Knorr Chicken Stock Pot.

The meatballs went back into the sauce for the last 10 minutes or so to finish cooking while the pasta was doing.

Serving the meatballs was easy enough - a bed of pasta with lovely juicy meatballs in rich tomato sauce on top - and a handful of grated cheddar cheese to finish.  I felt that the cheddar went so much better than parmesan would have - and it added a little nod towards the Mexican, as we love cheddar with our chilli con carne.

A really simple, easy to produce and cheap but delicious mid week pasta dinner.  Oh - and hubby declared that they were the best meatballs I'd ever made.  I think - no, I hope - that means he liked them!


Ingredients :

500g minced pork & beef (500g in total)
45g chipotle chilli paste
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated or minced
3-4 chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes (Tarantella, if you can get them)
1 Knorr chicken Stock Pot, made up in 200ml hot water (or just throw them in together and stir!)
1 tbsp tomato puree (Tarantella again, if you can find it)
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
half a tsp of paprika
sugar to taste (I used Jaggery, which is unrefined cane sugar)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
4-6 sprigs of fresh Basil, leaves removed and torn into small pieces.

Method :

1.  In a large bowl, combine the mince (taken directly from the fridge to ensure it is as cold as possible) and the chipotle paste.  Smoosh with your fingers until the paste is evenly distributed.  You might want to use latex gloves for this bit, as chipotle will find every little scratch you've got - and set fire to it!

2.  Form the combination into small meatballs - about walnut size, or smaller, and set aside.  You can chill them now if you want to, but if the mince was cold to begin with, this shouldn't be necessary.

3.  Heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs on a medium to hot heat.  Make sure they don't burn, by continually moving them around.  Once they are all sealed and a good quantity of fat has rendered from them, remove them onto a plate and reserve.

4.  Spoon as much of the fat from the pan as possible, leaving around a tablespoonful with which to start your sauce.

5.  Add the onion and cook on a medium heat until soft, golden and just beginning to take on a caramelised colour.

6.  Reduce the heat slightly and add the garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for another couple of minutes.

7.  Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, tomato puree, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and paprika and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for some 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced slightly and thickened.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary, including adding sugar if required.  (The amount of sugar will depend on the quality of the tinned tomatoes.  Better quality tomatoes won't need as much sugar).

8.  Return the meatballs to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes or so, while the pasta cooks in another pan.  You may need to add a tiny bit of water, if the sauce begins to thicken too much.

9.  Finally, add the fresh basil and stir through.

10.  Serve on spaghetti or Mafalda Corta pasta, with a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese and a sprig of fresh basil as garnish.

Printable version



  1. Mmmm sounds spicy but delish!!!

    1. It sure was spicy, Ali - but then the spicyness is controllable. If you were to put less chipotle paste in the mix, it would be less spicy. :)

  2. I used to cook with chipotle a lot when I lived abroad but it had kind of slipped my mind not seeing it about the place back home. As it happens I am off to Sainsbury this very day and shall pick some of this paste. I'm drooling already!

    1. I hope you managed to find some, Suzy! We found some dried chipotle chillies there, too. They were in a little foil packet, about 3" tall, which contained about 3 or 4. Perfect, considering we don't use them all that much!

  3. Sounds lovely, I'm a big chipotle fan!

    1. It has taken us around a year to get our paws on some chipotles, Mrs M. However now we have, we've been using them in everything - and I can see the attraction!

  4. Well, everything was sounding soooo good.. till you added the Basil.. Since this is a Mexican type of food.. I think I would not use basil.. more of an Italian meal I would use that in.. And then I would put these wonderful meatballs into a tortilla... with tomatoes, onions, cilantro... and Lettuce,,

    LOL..Jenny.. I have lived in the Southwest almost all my life.. and Love Love Mexican Food.. and this I think is wonderful... Yum...

    1. LOL @ Babsy! But that's where I was going with the dish, Barbara - New York Italian! It wasn't supposed to be Mexican at all, so hence the Basil and pasta. LOL


I love to receive messages from you all, so if you can spare the time, comment away!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...