These are not your typical meatballs. Not because they're flavored with a Mexican flair. And not because they were put inside a quesadilla. What makes them so unusual is that they are made from LEFTOVER meat.
Cooked meat from the night before that I had leftover.
This concept was brought to my attention as I was searching for a recipe to make of Chef Jacques Pepin's. Jacques Pepin is a world famous french Chef. He co-started in a series on PBS back in the day with Julia Child, called Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. This is just one of his many achievements.
This is the fifth and final recipe for my little Facebook challenge:
Leftover meat. I don't know about you, but I struggle with this often. I've done sandwiches and cold salads with it. There are soups and casseroles and a whole crud load of recipes out there to help us with leftover meat.
But have you ever made it into meatballs? This concept captured my attention in a big way. As I read Chef Jacques's recipe, and realized the versatility....a whole new leftover world opened up for me. Jacques used leftover beef and then added a tomato sauce. Beef isn't eaten all that often around here. Chicken reigns queen in my kitchen. A few ingredient swaps, all was in order.
I'm thinking....in the very near future, with Thanksgiving just days away....this is a great alternative for turkey leftovers.
Mexican Meatball Quesadilla (made with leftover chicken)
Inspired by Jacques Pepin's Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
12 oz leftover cooked Mexican flavored chicken (or your meat of choice)
3 TB flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 cup minced onions
1/4 cup jalapeno, minced (or any veggie that goes with your meat and theme: celery, mushroom, etc)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin (or any seasoning that goes with your theme; thyme, oregano, basil, etc)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
3 lg eggs
Vegetable oil to fry
Panko, bread crumbs, flour (optional, to coat meatballs)
For assembling quesadilla:
Tortillas (four or corn)
Toss the meat into a food processor and process away... until finely chopped.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except for the oil and panko. Squish everything together with your hands. Come on...we're the cooks...we're allowed to have a little fun with our food. Get dirty. Form into about 16 meatballs. Flatten them a little. Why not...I mean, when I make ground beef meatballs, they always ended up flattened anything (unless I boil them but that's a horse of a different color). Gently roll the meatballs in panko, bread crumbs or flour is desired. I used a panko flour mixture.
Heat a skillet with about 1/4" of oil until hot (Jacques says..."...until shimmering"). Cook the meatballs on high heat until brown. Gently turn them over, reduce heat to medium and cook for another 3 minutes.
Poof....done. Transfer them to a paper towel lined plate and get ready to serve them any way you desire.
They kinda resemble tiny patties. But honestly, what's the difference between a meatball and a patty? In my head...the shape and size.
By looking at the insides of that meatball, can you tell it was made with leftovers? Oh man...and is it good! Not the least bit dry. Full of flavor. The texture is just as it should be. Absolutely delicious!!
I can't tell you how excited I am about the results of these meatballs. Seriously....I might make a roast just so I can have some leftovers to give the beef version a try.
How would you serve your meatballs? In a tomato sauce, bbq sauce, alfredo......?