I spent the summer of 2005 in a catatonic heap, defeated and broken. I was homeless after a shitty breakup and reeling from the brute force of the emotional blow. I spent the better part of a month willing myself to my lunch break so I could go cry in the bathroom. The 5th floor bathroom of the Hart Senate building was stained in my tears.
Through all this misery, my friend, the Divine Miss O, stood there and rubbed my back and patiently reassured me it would be ok. We were already growing close before Summer Hellfest 2005, but this time in my life solidified our friendship. She was always kind, never condescending, patient even in my moments of utter ridiculousness, and steadfastly compassionate. I don’t think I can ever fully explain how much faith she restored in me that summer. I remember one morning sobbing in to a fritatta her equally awesome husband had lovingly prepared for me; I don’t know how they didn’t smack me silly with a hot frying pan. It was all a bit dramatic, but very real to me at the time.
This weekend I went to visit both of the Os and their new baby, DarlingO. If you heard a humming in your ear this Saturday, it was the buzz of my uterus. Folks, I believe I ovulated as she peacefully slept on my chest. A more beautiful baby has never been born, nor are there many babies in world as lucky as her; her parents are the best of the best. My one hope for her is to know how good she got it right from the start.
Never one to go empty handed, I brought these chipotle pork meatballs for the lovely little family to enjoy. They both love spice and bacon, so, really there was not much of a question when I saw this recipe. The original recipe calls for two cans of chilis, but unless you are a masochist, I would advise against it. These were pretty spicy with just one can in the sauce. I upped the garlic levels and reduced the beef stock for a thicker sauce. If you don’t have a food processor, dice the bacon really fine and it will be just as good, though a bit chunkier. The Os tell me these were great on rolls with swiss cheese; I think that is a genius idea.
Chipotle Pork Meatballs
Adapted from Simply Recipes
3 slices bacon in 1-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 ¼ pounds ground pork
1/2 cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped mint leaves, more for garnish
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), drained of all but ¼ cup juice
1 can chipotle chilies in adobo, stemmed, seeded and sauce reserved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
About 1 cup beef
1 Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, combine bacon and 1 garlic clove. Process until finely chopped. Add eggs, bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse several times to combine thoroughly, then add pork and mint. Pulse a few more times until well combined but not a paste. Remove meat from processor.
2 With wet hands, form meat into about 16 plum-size balls and space them out in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
3 While meatballs bake, combine tomatoes, ¼ cup tomato juice, chipotles, 1 to 2 tablespoons chipotle sauce, oregano, remaining garlic cloves (cut in half) and ½ teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor. Process to a smooth purée.
4 When meatballs are ready, spoon off rendered fat from baking dish, then pour tomato mixture on top, covering meatballs evenly. Bake until sauce has thickened somewhat, 15 to 20 minutes.
5 Heat broth in a small saucepan. Divide meatballs among four dinner plates, leaving sauce behind. Stir enough broth into sauce to give it a spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt, if necessary. Spoon sauce over meatballs, decorate with extra mint leaves, if you wish, and serve.Serves four.
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