Friday, May 17, 2013

Hatch Chili Meatballs from Three Diets. One Dinner.

A few weeks ago Brittanie from Three Diets. One Dinner. asked if I'd review one of her recipes.  Brave girl.  I asked her for suggestions and she recommended her Hatch Chili Meatballs.  My initial thought was that Hatch chilies aren't in season and won't be until August.  I did a little investigation and evidently you can buy them online, but they are a bit pricey.  Then I wondered if Hatch chilies are available in most of the country when they are in season.  Maybe not, so I decided I would make the recipe, but with a substitute pepper.  Anaheim peppers seem to be the most commonly recommended substitution for Hatch chilies, which evidently really don't exist anyway.    

I gathered my ingredients and got to work.  

I started by mincing 2 tablespoons of onion and adding it to a mixing bowl with the ground beef.  

Next, I minced half a jalapeño and added it to the bowl.  Half a jalapeño ended up being about 2.5 tablespoons.  I then turned to the Anaheim pepper.  I have no idea how large an average hatch chili is.  I tried to find an average weight online but didn't find anything.  I decided to just use half of the Anaheim and hope that it was similar in size. 

I diced both peppers by first slicing them into thin long strips and then cutting those strips down to a mince size.  

Next, I minced and added 2 tablespoons of cilantro to the bowl.  

With all of the mincing complete, I added the spices to the bowl starting with cumin.  

Then paprika.

And finally, salt.

I then mixed everything together using my hands until all of the ingredients appeared to be evenly distributed in the meat.  I formed 12 meatballs as even in size as I could get them.  After heating my 10" cast iron skillet, I added the meatballs to the pan.  I was a little skeptical that there was no added oil in this recipe, but I decided to go with it.  

I set a timer for 7.5 minutes and turned the meatballs when it went off.  Be careful when you turn them in case they stick.  Mine really didn't release much fat while cooking and stuck to my pan a bit when I went to turn them.  After turning, I set the timer for another 7.5 minutes.  When that timer went off, some of the meatballs still needed to cook a bit.  I removed the ones that were done and turned the meatballs that were not again and let them cook until done.  I removed them from the skillet to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any extra grease.  

Here are my finished meatballs with some roasted carrots and zucchini.

And a close up. 

Accessibility & Cost of Ingredients:  Hatch chilies are only in season for about six weeks beginning in August.  In Central Texas where I live, apparently they are brought in from New Mexico.  I have no idea how wide spread the "hoopla" about the Hatch chili season is outside of Central Austin.  I grew up in Houston and never heard of a hatch chili until I moved to Austin for college.  I asked a foodie friend who still lives in Houston if the craze has spread to Houston and it hasn't.  If you can't get your hands on a Hatch chili, try an Anaheim.  I've seen Anaheim chilies at my big box grocery store year round.  Everything else in the recipe is fairly inexpensive and can be found at your "big box" grocery store.  

Preparation & Cooking Time:  It took me about 18.5 minutes to prepare the meatballs to cook.  It took me about 19 minutes to cook the meatballs giving me a total cooking preparation and cooking time of 37.5 minutes.  

Clean Up:  I scrubbed my cast iron skillet with salt, water, and my no-soap scrubber and re-seasoned it with oil over high heat.  Everything else I used went into the dishwasher.  

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!  These meatballs really do have an excellent flavor to them with a little heat.  I've never actually had a Hatch chili, so I don't know how using one would effect the heat level of the recipe.  The improve overnight in the fridge and freeze well.  If you are looking for a quick week night dinner with a little kick, give these a try.  Certainly, don't let the lack of Hatch chilies stop you.  

I think Brittanie is including this recipe in an upcoming Texas Cookbook she's writing.  I'm curious as a native Texan to see what a Texas cookbook written by a non-native Texan looks like.