It's been a well documented fact on this blog that I LOVE MEAT and meatballs may just be at the top of my meat loving list. These are one of my favorites because of the addition of smoky, spicy chipotle. It, along with cilantro instead of parsley, sets them apart from your basic Italian meatballs.
And one of the best things about serving meatballs at a party is that you can do all the work ahead of time and just reheat them giving you time for a pre-party cocktail. Win-win!!
Here's the recipe:
Mini-Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 or 2 canned chipotles in adobo sauce , finely chopped with any clinging adobo sauce, to taste (My taste calls for about a tablespoon extra adobo sauce!)
3/4 cup packaged dried bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds ground round
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 deg F. Lightly oil a large baking sheet
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until it gives off its fragrance, about 1 minute. Transfer half of the onion mixture to a large bowl.
Return the saucepan with the remaining onion mixture to the stove. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chipotles, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is lightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the bread crumbs, eggs, oregano, salt and pepper to the onions in the bowl and mix well. Add the ground round and ground pork, and mix again. Using about 1 tablespoon for each, roll the meat mixture into balls and place on the baking sheet.
Bake until the meatballs are browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the simmering sauce. Cover and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes. (The meatballs can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool the meatballs in the sauce. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Or transfer the cooked meatballs and sauce to airtight containers and freeze for up to 1 month; defrost before reheating. To reheat, cook the meatballs and sauce in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are heated through, about 20 minutes).
Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a slow cooker or chafing dish to keep warm. Sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve hot with toothpicks for spearing the meatballs.