Meatballs in Guajillo Sauce with Zucchini
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 6 to 8 (24 meatballs)
Pati says there are two secrets to this dish. The first is to use two kinds of meat. I ended up using lean beef and lamb with great results. She also recommends simmering the meatballs in the tangy, lively sleek, and glossy guajillo sauce. And I will say that the chile sauce is surprisingly mild, which is just the way I like it. You can serve this dish like I did as a soup or serve over rice or with beans or corn tortillas on the side.
  • 6 dried guajillo chiles stemmed and seeded
  • 2 pounds tomatillos, husked and thoroughly rinsed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
  • 1¼ cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ½ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 epazote sprigs (or 4 dried leaves) or cilantro sprigs, optional
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into ¼-inch dice
  1. Heat a comal or large skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles and toast, turning often, until they are deeply browned and you can smell the chile fumes, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large pot or casserole, add the tomatillos and garlic, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the tomatillos are thoroughly cooked, their color has changed from bright green to olive, and the guajillos have plumped up and rehydrated, about 12 minutes. Drain.
  2. Transfer the tomatillos, garlic, and chiles to a blender and allow to cool slightly, then add 1 teaspoon salt and puree until completely smooth.
  3. Rinse out and dry the casserole, and set over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until hot. Add 1 cup of the onions and cook until they are tender and the edges have just begun to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillo puree, cover partially, as the thick sauce will sear and sputter, and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and darkened.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the meats, bread crumbs, egg, the remaining ¼ cup onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a bowl and mix together well.
  5. When the tomatillo puree has cooked down, stir in the broth, scraping the bottom and sides of the casserole to incorporate any sauce sticking to the surfaces of the pot. Place the meat mixture and a small bowl of water next to the casserole. Wet your hands and start shaping the meat into approximately 1½-inch balls. Gently drop the balls into the sauce as you form them. When all of the meatballs have been added to the sauce, add the epazote or cilantro. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in the zucchini and simmer for another 5 minutes, until t he zucchini is just tender. Serve hot.
Recipe by Lizs Healthy Table at