Recipe: Mexican Meatballs with Green Rice

Every country seems to have its own meatball recipe these days, Italy, Sweden, Greece.  The Mexicans have their own, and, naturally, it is made with beef.  Lamb and pork do not feature too much on their menu.  Of course it is spicy, but what would you expect?

So you need the following:

  • A pound of beef mince
  • Four egg whites
  • A teacup and a half of  breadcrumbs
  • Dried chillies

For the tomato sauce:

  • Two tins of tomatoes
  • 125 ml of Mavrodaphne Red Wine
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Pork stock or beef stock
  • Minced chillies

 For the rice:

  •  One and a half tea cups of long grain rice
  • A handful of spinich
  • garden peas and/or sweetcorn (as an option)

Right, let's get started.

Do you still have all the tomato sauce from the other day?  If so, tip it into a cooking pot, add a teaspoon of minced chilli  and heat slowly.  Then skip to the meatballs.  If not, then read on here:

Take one large cooking pot with a lid and place on a medium heat.  Open two tins of good quality chopped tomatoes and tip them into the pan.  Add 125 ml of Mavrodaphne red wine and two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.  Stir slowly and allow to simmer. Then add a teaspoon of minced red chillies.  Leave it for a few minutes, reduce heat and have a taste.  It should have a rich, full flavour with a sudden kick of spice at the end.  If not, then add more chillies.

So, leave the sauce to simmer, gently, and wash your hands.  This is the messy but fun bit.

Put one mixing bowl and one large plate on the work top.  Add the minced beef to the mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs.  Now crack and separate for egg whites from the yolks.  Add the egg whites to the bowl, and a small sprinking of dried chilles and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. and mix the ingredients together with your hands.  Kneed the mixture like bread until it all comes together.  If it is too dry and crumbling, add more egg white.  If it is too wet, add more breadcrumbs.  Mix it all together into one huge meatball.  From there, break off small handfuls and roll into golf sized balls in the palms of your hands.  It's fun, but messy. Set each ball on to the plate.

Now wash your hands with plenty of soap!

Using a hot deep fat fryer, fry the meatballs for a few seconds, just to brown the outside, then transfer them onto a clean plate. This prevents cross contamination from raw meat to cooked.  Add the bowl and the first plate to the washing up.

Once the meatballs have cooled for a little white, add them one at a time to the tomato sauce.  Place the lid over the pot and leave to simmer on a very low heat.  It takes at least an hour for the meatballs to absorb and cook in the sauce.

When they are nearly done, take a saucepan of freshly boiled water and place on a medium heat.  Add the rice and a handful of spinach.  Leave it to simmer for fifteen minutes.  You will slowly notice the water goes green as the colour is boiled out of the spinach.  It then absorbs into the rice.  Feel free to add half a tin of corn or peas if you want to add a bit of Carribean influence.

Pick out the spinach and drain the rice through a strainer and pack it tightly into an upturned plastic timbale or other small dish. Even an egg cup could work.  Now the tricky bit.  Take a plate and press the top of the timbale or egg cup tight against it.  Now slowly and carefully turn the whole thing over and raise the timbale.  You should get a perfectly pressed little mountain of rice to the side of the plate.

I always like to serve my meatballs in a separate oven ware dish so I can add toppings to melt in the oven.

Carefully, using a thick towel, transfer the oven ware bowl with the meatballs to the main plate, and serve.  It is nice with Guacomole and sour cream. 

Enjoy your dinner!

Words & photos by chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.