Chipotle peppers in adobo (Recipe: chipotle turkey meatballs)
A few evenings ago, the friends who come to eat the food I cook and photograph for this blog -- friends who don't mind meals that are cold, poorly timed, mismatched cuisines, with portions missing out of every dish -- were talking about a cachepot (cash-POH), the decorative pot that holds a flower pot.
Somehow the conversation veered away from trying to convince our friend Bob to make cachepots for an upcoming flower show. Instead, we ended up talking about pronounciation.
That got me thinking about some food words that trip people up.
Words like mascarpone, quinoa, and chipotle.
Poor chipotles. One of my favorite pantry ingredients, chipotle peppers in adobo have such a beautiful name, so often mispronounced.
Chih-POTE-lay peppers are smoked jalapeños, or chiles ahumado. The Aztecs in the area north of Mexico City first smoked jalapeños to preserve them, because the peppers' thick skin inhibited the natural drying process and the peppers would rot before they dried.
Smoky and medium-hot, chipotles are the size and shape of sun-dried tomatoes, and like tomatoes, they come dried, in bags. However, I'm partial to the canned peppers in adobo, a sauce made of vinegar, tomatoes and garlic, which further preserves the chipotles. It's like getting two ingredients in one; the peppers, and the sauce, which stands on its own.
Once you've opened the can, transfer the chipotles and adobo sauce (don't waste a drop!) to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the container in the refrigerator; the vinegar is a natural preservative, and the peppers will last for a couple of months.
Chipotle turkey meatballs
Makes 18 large meatballs, or 30 small ones.
1-1/4 lb ground turkey (93% fat free)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced, plus 1 Tbsp adobo sauce (or more, to taste)
1-1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried epazote
1 pinch mild red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. With your hands, mix just until the ingredients are combined; do not overmix.
Heat a small nonstick frying pan, and add a drop or two of oil. Break off a small piece of the meatball mixture, and fry it until browned on both sides. Taste, and adjust the seasoning before forming the rest of the meatballs.
Using an ice cream scoop (the kind with a release, called a "disher"), form the meatballs and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat (silicone mat) or parchment paper. You should get 17-18 large meatballs.
Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven, and bake for 18 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.