Friday, April 27, 2012

Mexican Meatballs in Tomato-Chipotle Sauce from Diana Kennedy

It was an itch I had to scratch. Mexican Meatballs?????


Yes, Mexican meatballs and pretty succulent ones at that. Diana Kennedy is this week's focus from the group cooking their way through the 50 Best Female-Game Changers in Food (according to Gourmet). Diana Kennedy is #45 of Gourmet's list.

Diana Kennedy is  often called a "Mexican Food Anthropologist." That terms just rings so true for her and for so many people who seek out more than recipes, more than ingredients but also want to see the techniques involved in the cooking - the history of the recipes. Kennedy is widely acclaimed for her searching out recipes from home cooks in the smallest villages of Mexico. She is also known for her slightly acid tongue.



A recollection from Rick Bayless from David Kamp's 2006 book, "United States of Arugula," about meeting Kennedy for the first time. 

"She did everything but just chew me up and spit me out. I'd never been so poorly treated by any person. She said, 'This is over, I think we're done,' and kicked me out of her car and left me on the road. I had to walk back to town."

Kennedy's remembrance?

"I had just bought some land but not yet built a house, and he sort of trailed me there, and the day he arrived, somebody had cut down two trees on the land that I'd just bought, and I was furious. And then, you know, being young, he was sort of damned opinionated, and he kept saying things like, 'Well, why didn't you translate the Spanish titles in the tortilla book?' I said, 'Well, for goodness' sake!' He was being very brash, and I was getting annoyed, so that was it: I gave him the bum's rush."

In his article on Diana Kennedy, William Booth likens Kennedy to a pickled pepper or better yet a chili habenero! Read his delightful article on her here.

Hailed as "the Julia Child of Mexican cooking," Kennedy moved to Mexico from the United Kingdom in 1957. She lived there with her husband who was a foreign correspondent for the NY Times until 1966. During that time, she started gathering information on Mexican cooking. Later, after her husband died (and with the encouragement of Craig Claiborne, NY Times restaurant and food critic), Kennedy began cooking lessons in Mexican cuisine and creating her book The Essential Cuisines of Mexico which is now a classic. Published in 1972, it opened a lot of eyes and discoveries that Mexican Cuisine is not all about the taco! She currently resides in Mexico where she has spent 45 years perfecting her knowledge of Mexican food, ingredients and techniques. Read more about this fascinating woman here. I only served you an amuse bouche!

In researching Diana Kennedy, I found many of her recipes on blogs. This Mexican meatball recipe is from The Wednesday Chef. It seems that when people search for authentic Mexican cuisine, they are directed to Kennedy's recipes.


This is the real deal - the sauce is all tomatoes with some smokey-spicy chipotles in adobo sauce. The meatballs are tender having braised in the sauce for almost an hour (you don't brown them first - I wanted to - I am so used to doing that). Hints of cumin and oregano jazz up the beef-pork mixture. And it's lightened with minced zucchini that absorbs all the flavors.



The recipe made 32 meatballs - which made for a very happy husband. I probably didn't need to make the brown rice as a filler for him! I changed nothing in the recipe (except for using my oregano and not Mexican oregano). Because I scrupulously followed the recipe, I am going to send you to Luisa's luscious blog The Wednesday Chef for the recipe. I am betting most of you know her blog and if you don't - you will like it. 


I have a few meatballs leftover in my fridge promised to my son (believe it or not, husband and I could not eat 32 meatballs - but we gave it the old college try!). But as I gaze on the photos, it is taking all my willpower to not grab a fork and just gobble them up! Meatballs for Cinco de Mayo, anyone?

I'm not giving up on my Italian meatballs but this was a fun turnabout.

Meanwhile, the lilacs have bloomed in the Twin Cities. It's a month early but I will take what I can get. They grace my home outside...


And inside. Happy Spring! And spring brings artichokes which will be Sunday's Small Bites.



Check out the other bloggers dipping into Mexican exquisite cuisine this week.If it's as good as the meatballs, you could have a delicious read.

Susan - The Spice GardenHeather - girlichef,
Miranda - Mangoes and ChutneyJeanette - Healthy Living
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Simple Nourished Living

33 comments:

drick perry said...

beautiful lilacs and what a beautiful flavored meal this must be - I just love her recipes

Kathy said...

Claudia, My Lilacs are up, too! I can’t believe how ahead we are this year…it’s throwing me off schedule! Lol! Your Mexican Meatballs look delicious…I flirted with this recipe…but of course chose a cake to make! Have a great weekend!

Heather @girlichef.com said...

I LOVE lilacs...they take me back to childhood when we had several bushes/trees lining the yard outside of the kitchen window. Still one of my favorite scents. And yum, I totally want some albondigas right this minute - they look fabulous.

Jeanette said...

I saw this recipe and wanted to try it - so glad to see they came out as good as they sounded.

Mary said...

I am full! Your post this morning was substantial, filling and really nicely done.The meatballs sound fabulous and lilacs are among my favorite blooms. I carried a bouquet of white lilacs and lilies of the valley on my wedding day. Have a fabulous weekend, Claudia. Blessings...Mary

Tina Bk said...

This lady does sound like a character and she had a really unique journey in her career. The meatballs look amazing. This is one of those meals that leaves you with a full content feeling-yum!
The lilacs are beautifull. Have a great weekend!

Achu's Amma's Kitchen said...

amazing meatballs.Have a nice weekend

Jill~a SaucyCook said...

Oh Claudia, how I wish we could have enjoyed a vase of those beautiful lilacs to enhance our dining experience!

Barbara said...

Super recipe, Claudia. The photo is making me hungry. Good write up on Diana as well.
Lilacs are my favorite...I miss them in Florida.

Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits said...

Mmm, those meatballs really sound flavorfull. Love the idea of adding zucchini to them. Diana is really one tough cookie. She sure showed Rick Bayless off!

Angie's Recipes said...

Those Mexican meatballs look mouthwatering. I love the added minced zucchini.

Linda A. Thompson Ditch said...

Beautiful lilacs! They have come and gone here in Kansas--very early this year. Those meatballs look tasty! My grandmother's Spanish meatballs are not browned first, either, which makes them tender--as you noted. I'll have to give this recipe a try when I want something a little zestier than the Italian style.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I agree - I wouldn't give up my Italian meatballs either, but these do sound good. Love, love, love lilacs too, and am enjoying the fragrance of mine. They never seem to last long once cut though.

Rosemary said...

I just love it when cultures collide so happily like this! And yes, just in time for cinco de mayo! I must try more of Kennedy's recipes. I need to learn there's more to Mexican than tacos and guacamole (which I happen to love, anyhow.)qo

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I love my Italian meatballs--which I also I don't brown first when I make them. They also simmer slowly in the sauce--but I'm very tempted to try thsi recipe as I like spicy Mexican food!

Your lilias are so abundant, Claudia. Their fragrance must be intoxicating!

vianney said...

Oh I love albondigas, such a comfort dihs. thank yoou for sharing!

bellini said...

This is the recipe I till need to make. It has certainly been a bust week and I have not come back off vacation mode:D Loved the two sided version of Rick and Diane.

Miranda said...

Your reaction was also my first - Mexican meatballs? Sounds good though, a must try!

Marcellina said...

Lilacs? I've heard of them but never seen them. Thanks, that's what I love about the internet - the world comes to you. BTW love the Mexican meatballs, yum!

sweetsamsations said...

I've never had Mexican meatballs but they do look so delicious!!! After all, I haven't found a Mexican food that I disliked! Yes and I think that tomatoes and meatballs are made for each other!

Lizzy said...

Loved reading about her reaction to Rick Bayless :) These meatballs sound phenomenal...these may make their way to my dinner table!

Diana said...

Claudia, thank you! a recipe printed! we love meatballs, especially my husband who could eat every one I make, and this sounds worthy of making. We have a Hispanic man who has been helping us clean up from our winter storm... will try this on him. Won't he be impressed?
PS: lilacs just starting to bloom here too in the PNW... spring is finally here. Have a wonderful weekend.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

She is THE authority on real Mexican food and what she produces is vastly different from what we think of as Mexican food in the US. I enjoyed your story about Rick Bayless and your photos today are spectacular.

I can't help but say (forgive me please)- that's a spicy meatball.
Sam

Veronica Gantley said...

Such pretty pictures! Your meatballs look amazing. You picked a great recipe to share with us.

Veronica Gantley said...

Such pretty pictures! Your meatballs look amazing. You picked a great recipe to share with us.

Rebecca Subbiah said...

awesome meatballs

Susan Lindquist said...

Haha! we had the same itch ... and I scratched it with these meatballs too! Did your recipe have mint in it also? I found that rather odd! The sauce was killer, though, so mellow and inderstated ... and yes, it felt odd to just braise the meatballs and not brown them first!

Reeni said...

My mouth is watering like crazy over these spicy delights! Everything about them appeals to me right down to the zucchini!

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

Diana Kennedy is UNA DIOSA, and quite the hero of mine. I have a few recipes of hers that are old faithfuls and I churn out for large events, and people always swoon and exclaim and ask what they are. They can never quite get their heads around it when I tell them it's traditional Mexican.

I have no doubt those meatballs would have been amazing!

Martha@ Simple Nourished Living said...

Lilacs. I love lilacs and haven't had the opportunity to enjoy them since moving to the desert.

Your meatballs look amazing. I'm starting to salivate, so I think it's time to sign off and have a snack before trying to read any more posts!

Cucina49 said...

Meatballs have become one of my favorite comfort foods. This Mexican variation is very timely--I am having friends over for meatball subs later this week!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Mouthwatering! My kind of food.

Cheers,

Rosa

FOODESSA said...

Thanks for introducing us to this very interesting lady...her profession is to be envied. After Interior Design, I may just want to follow her footsteps in my next career ;o)

Hmmm...Mexican meatballs. I have to admit, they look very tasty. I guess, I can let my Italian ones go hide for an occasional treat such as this one ;o)

Ciao for now,
Claudia