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Spicy Chipotle Meatballs

Exploiting the warmth and depth of spicy chipotle chillies, Irena Macri from Eat Drink Paleo puts a Mexican twist on a classic meatball dish.


  • 1 large brown onion, peeled and diced finely

  • 1 tsp of lard or ghee (clarified butter)

  • Lime & fresh coriander to serve

  • For the meatballs mix

  • 800g of grass fed beef mince

  • 3 medium rehydrated chipotle chillies (tinned chipotle can also be used)

  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely diced

  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed or powder

  • 1 tsp ground cumin seed or powder

  • 1 tsp sweet or medium paprika

  • 1 tbsp virgin olive oil

  • 1 ½ tsp of sea salt

  • 2 tbsp lard or ghee or a combination of both

  • For the sauce

  • ½ of the onion mentioned above

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 2 medium chipotle chilies, seeds out

  • ½ tsp ground coriander seed powder

  • 1 tsp ground cumin seed powder

  • ½ tsp paprika

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 400 grams of diced tomatoes or tomato puree (about 1 ½ cups)

  • ½ tsp sea salt


  • 1.

    If using dried chipotle chilies, place in hot water for at least an hour before using to rehydrate.

  • 2.

    Sauté the onion in lard or ghee for 3-5 minutes, until translucent. Use half of the onion in the meatball mix and reserve the rest for the sauce.

  • 3.

    While onion is cooking, pre-chop other ingredients for the meatballs. Slice the chipotle chilies in half and remove the seeds. Chop or grind with mortar and pestle.

  • 4.

    Combine beef mince with half of the cooked onion, chopped garlic, chipotle chilies, paprika, cumin, coriander seed, salt and olive oil. Combine and knead with your hands. Using clean, wet hands roll the mix into small balls (somewhere between a walnut and a golf ball size). Set aside until ready to cook.

  • 5.

    Preheat a dollop of lard in the large frying pan until sizzling hot. Cook the meatballs on medium/high heat for 3 minutes on each side, until well browned.

  • 6.

    Add the rest of the cooked onion, garlic, two chopped chilies and sauce spices to the pan with the meatballs. Stir through and add the tomato puree. Combine and cook for 8-10 minutes uncovered, stirring frequently to make sure the meatballs cook evenly and the sauce is well combined. Taste for salt. Drizzle with a little lime juice before serving.

  • Notes:

  • 1.

    Chipotle is a chilli pepper with a very smoky flavour and smell, a little like smoked paprika with mild, warm heat. Unlike most chilies that simply add heat to the dish, chipotle adds an incredible flavour and depth. Chipotle chillies are great with meats and seafood and can be found as dried peppers or tinned in brine or tomato sauce in most Mexican/International ingredients section of your supermarket or at your local delis and specialty stores.

  • 2.

    A combination of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper or red chilli can be used instead of chipotle peppers.


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