meatballs
Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

In last week's World Fare,  I reviewed Tapas Picasso in Hillcrest. Two of my favorite of Chef Loren Villalobos Alsman's tapas were the meatballs in spicy chorizo sauce and her superlative albacore mousse paté with chipotle. Following an inspiring telephone conversation with Chef Alsman, I decided to pay tribute to her "authorial cuisine" by combining aspects of these two dishes into a Mexican-tinged tapa of my own. ---

I took the chipotle from the albacore mousse dish and substituted it for the chorizo in the sauce for the meatballs. Instead of the ground turkey in the meatballs (itself a substitution for the more classic veal or beef) I used a 50/50 combination of ground lamb and ground bison. While I love turkey on Thanksgiving as much as the next guy, the simple fact is that turkey is not a particularly flavorful meat. Lamb, on the other hand, is. The fat and flavor of the lamb marries perfectly here with the lean beefiness of the bison.

Lamb & Bison Meatballs with Tomato-Chipotle Sauce

Serves 4-6

For the meatballs:

1/2 pound ground lamb (preferably shoulder)

1/2  pound ground bison 

2 tablespoons minced shallots 

1/4 cup breadcrumbs (preferably made fresh from day-old bread) 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

1 tablespoon pimenton (smoked paprika) 

1 egg, whisked to combine yolk and white 

Kosher salt 

Freshly ground pepper 

2 tablespoons minced cilantro 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

*You can substitute pork for the lamb and bison

For the sauce 

1 onion, chopped 

1 carrot, chopped 

1 stalk celery, chopped  

28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes 

2-3 chipotles from canned chipotle in adobo 

2 tablespoons thyme, leaves only 

Kosher salt 

Freshly ground pepper 

1 tablespoon white sugar (optional) 

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)

Chopped cilantro


Make the meatballs

Combine all of the meatball ingredients (except the olive oil) in a large mixing bowl and mix gently but thoroughly. Form the meat into 1-inch balls. Pour the olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Working in batches (if necessary), add the meatballs and sear until browned on all sides, about six minutes. When fully browned, transfer the meatballs to a bowl.

Make the sauce

Place the chopped onion, carrot and celery in a large sauce pan and sweat over low heat until veggies have given up their liquid. Increase the heat to high. Add the tomatoes, two chipotles and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down and the flavors have melded. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper-and the acid balance with the sugar and vinegar-to your liking. If the sauce needs additional heat, add the remaining chipotle and allow to cook for another five minutes. Puree the sauce in a Vitamix or other high-speed blender.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for five minutes.

Serve four to five meatballs in bowls and ladle the sauce over the meatballs. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Write to michaelg@sdcitybeat.comMichael blogs at www.sdfoodtravel.com. You can follow him on twitter at @MAGARDINER
 

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28