The Mexican holiday "Dia de los Muertos" or Day of the Dead is a celebration that honors the souls of the deceased. One way to do that is to make and enjoy some of the departed relatives' favorite Mexican dishes. Here, Aarón Sánchez, chef and partner of Paloma restaurant in Stanford, CT, is sharing his must-have recipes for this special holiday: meatballs in chipotle sauce and street corn.
Albondigas al chipotle (Meatballs in chipotle sauce)
Makes 8 servings
- 1 pound lean ground pork butt
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup corn flour (masa harina) mixed with 3/4 cup warm water
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely mashed, plus 5 whole, peeled garlic cloves
- Salt and pepper
- 3 pounds very ripe unpeeled tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons instant chicken bouillon granules
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 canned chipotle chiles, pureed in blender with 1 cup cold water
1. Mix pork, beef, egg, masa harina and water mixture, and 4 finely mashed garlic cloves. Knead well, adding about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper as you knead. Set aside.
2. Puree the tomatoes with 5 garlic cloves and strain, pushing mixture through sieve or large strainer with the back of a wooden spoon until only the seeds are left. Set aside.
3.Heat oil in a Dutch oven or deep kettle that has a tight-fitting lid and sauté the chopped onion over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Do not brown. Add strained tomato puree and cook, covered, over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the bouillon granules and cumin. Cook 2 more minutes. Correct seasoning — it may require more salt, but add sparingly. Regulate the heat to keep the sauce at a simmer (you should have about 6 to 8 cups of sauce; if not, add water or pure tomato juice). Strain puréed chipotle chiles into sauce a teaspoon at a time, and taste as you stir. Add the cumin and stir.
4. To shape meatballs, moisten hands and squeeze out enough meat mixture to form balls the size of Ping-Pong balls. Roll each one in the moistened palm of your hand and drop them into the simmering sauce. Raise the heat and bring sauce back to boiling. Cover and cook the meatballs without stirring for 3 minutes. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 30 minutes. With a spatula, turn the meatballs once while cooking, using caution so as to not to break them.
5. Serve warm with corn tortillas or hot buttered corn bread or corn muffins (not sweet ones). White rice goes well, and so does green rice.
Chef Sánchez's meatball tips:
- Be careful not overwork the pork and beef as this can change the consistency of the meatballs.
- Masa harina is corn flour, traditionally used for tortillas. In this dish it acts as a great binder for the proteins. You can also use corn meal as a substitute.
- Chipotles in adobo is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with — it's super versatile. They add a great smokey heat to purées and salsas.
- These meatballs are great to make in large quantities and freeze for later!
- 6 ears of corn (grilled and cut off of cob)
- 3 tablespoons mayonaise
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 4 tablespoons grated cotija cheese
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Mexican chile paste (chipotle, guajillo, ancho, etc., could also use sambal)
- 2 tsp chile powder
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt to taste
1.Grill the corn and cut off of the cob (this could be done ahead of time).
2.Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, chile paste, lime juice and half of the cotija in a medium sized mixing bowl.
3.In a hot saute pan add the corn kernels and stir until hot. 4.Add the corn to the bowl of mayo/sour cream and mix.
5. Fold in half of the cilantro and half of the green onions.
6. Pour mixture into a serving bowl and garnish the top with remaining cotija, cilantro, green onion and chile powder.