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Roasted poblano peppers and crushed tortilla chips create these unique and flavorful Tex-Mex Meatballs in Red Chile Sauce. A fun twist on meatballs and an unforgettable meal!
There was zero conversation and lots of “mmm-yummy” noises happening when I served these Tex-Mex Meatball bowls for dinner. I saw the meatball recipe on Southern Living, tweaked it a bit, and friends, they are crazy-good!
I hope I can convince you to give these a try. Whoever you feed will be eternally grateful.
Don’t be scared away by the beautiful, complex look of this dish. The meatballs are quite easy to prepare and the sauce is created in nothing flat.
I served the saucy meatballs over rice with roasted sweet potatoes and corn and a dollop of sour cream. The sweetness from the roasted veggies combines beautifully with the flavors in the meatballs and sauce. Heavenly.
How to Roast Poblano Peppers
The first step in making the meatballs is to roast a poblano pepper.
You might see fresh poblanos labelled as pasilla peppers in the produce section of your store. Don’t fret – the stores have it wrong. If it’s fresh and labelled pasilla or poblano it’s what you want.
Poblano peppers look like a skinny bell pepper or giant jalapeno and they are extremely mild. I honestly don’t think they add any heat to recipes at all and I have a pretty low tolerance when it comes to spicy food. It’s all about flavor with the poblano. They are a great bell pepper alternative and delicious when roasted.
Broil your poblano pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the skin is blackened and blistered, turning it occasionally with tongs. Remove it from the oven and place the pepper in a zip-top plastic storage bag. Seal the bag and let it stand for about 10 minutes to loosen the skin. When it’s cool enough to handle it will be very easy to peel off the skin and remove the stem and seeds.
How to Make Tex-Mex Meatballs
Add the roasted poblano to the bowl of your food processor along with chopped onion, garlic, and cilantro.
Pulse the mixture until it is the consistency of a coarse paste.
Stir together some crushed tortilla chips and milk in a large mixing bowl and let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes or until the chips soften. Add a couple of eggs, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and the poblano mixture.
Fold in two pounds of lean ground beef and work the mixture with your hands just until it is combined.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat it with non-stick cooking spray. Roll the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and place them on baking sheet.
Bake the meatballs in a 400 degree F oven for about 12 minutes.
While the meatballs are baking, mix up the super easy Red Chile Sauce in a large pot or Dutch oven. It only has three ingredients and takes just minutes to prepare. See the recipe card below for the details.
Transfer the browned meatballs to the sauce and let them simmer away until the sauce is slightly thickened and downright fabulous.
I highly recommend serving Tex-Mex Meatballs as I did here – spooned over rice with roasted sweet potatoes and corn. It’s easy to get both the rice and veggies going before you pop the meatballs in the oven.
Let everyone assemble their own bowls and top them with a little cilantro and sour cream.
More tasty Tex-Mex inspired meals:
Tex-Mex Meatballs in Red Chile Sauce
For the Tex-Mex Meatballs:
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 cup coarsley chopped white onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves thick stems removed
- ½ cup finely crushed tortilla chips
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
For the Red Chile Sauce:
- 2 (10 ounce) cans red chile enchilada sauce (I love Hatch brand)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons sugar divided
For the Rice:
- 2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
For the Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Corn:
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 ears sweet corn
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste
- sour cream for garnish
- chopped cilantro for garnish
- Preheat the broiler with oven rack 5 inches from the heat. Line a baking sheet with foil. Broil the poblano pepper on the foil-lined baking sheet for 6 to 8 minutes or until blistered, turning occasionally. Use tongs to transfer the poblano to a zip-top plastic storage bag. Seal the bag and let it stand 10 minutes to loosen the skin. Use a paper towel to pull the peel from the poblano and remove and discard the stem and seeds.
- Add the roasted poblano, onion, garlic, and cilantro to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is a paste-like consistency.
- Add the crushed corn chips and milk to a large bowl. Let stand about 5 minutes or until the chips soften. Stir in the eggs, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and the poblano mixture. Fold in the beef and mix with your hands just until combined.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat it with non-stick cooking spray.
- Shape the meat mixture into about 30 (1 ½-inch meatballs) about 2 tablespoonfuls each. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes or until browned.
- While meatballs are baking, start the rice, sweet potatoes, and corn (see instructions below).
- Add the enchilada sauce, chicken broth, and sugar to a Dutch oven and place over MEDIUM-LOW heat. Use tongs to transfer the browned meatballs to the pot. Increase heat as needed to bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to MEDIUM-LOW and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat off under the meatballs and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Sauce will continue to thicken as they rest.
- Cook according to package directions.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Corn
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Peel and chop two medium sweet potatoes in 1-inch cubes (ish). Scatter over a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 30 minutes (ish), tossing with a spatula every 15 minutes. Cut the corn from two cobs and add to the sweet potatoes 5 minutes before the end of the baking time. Season with salt, to taste.
- Serve meatballs over the cooked rice with roasted sweet potatoes and corn. Garnish individual servings with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of cilantro.
Adapted from Southern Living