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i love meatballs! by Rick Rodgers + Chipotle Albóndigas Soup {cookbook review}

Author: Rick Rodgers
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
hard cover: 156 pages
photos: yes

Chapters/Sections: Meatballs to Start - Meatballs in Your Soup - Meatballs Between Bread - Saucy Meatballs - Meatballs on the Grill - Meatballs and Pasta - Metric Conversions and Equivalents

Fantastic Features: Wonderful introduction to meatballs in different cultures and the notion (that I happen to agree with) that meatballs are "comforting and retro, yet cutting-edge and hip all at the same time".  Rodgers talks about ingredients and techniques here also, from the different meats that are used to the type of bread or cracker crumbs, to the onions and garlic, eggs, broth, cheese to the seasonings.  He then moves on to techniques for making, mixing, shaping meatballs and rounds it by talking about the different types of cooking methods and how best to use them for making meatballs.  I also enjoy the pages on Chopping Your Own (in which he talks about the benefits of chopping your own meat in the food processor) and Using Store-bought Meatballs (quick tips for sprucing up those bags of frozen meatballs using different sauces from the book).

(a few of the many) Recipes Destined for my Kitchen: Spanish Meatball Tapas w/ Sherry-Garlic Sauce, Chicken-Matzo Balls in Vegetable Soup, Turkey Meatball Subs w/ Cranberry-Chipotle Mayonnaise, Vietnamese Banh Mi w/ Quick Pickled Vegetables, Grilled Cheese-Stuffed Meatball Sliders, Holiday Meatball Lasagna 

Additional Thoughts: I've professed my love of the humble meatball before.  This book was meant for backing up that argument.  It's a keeper!

Recipe(s) I have already tried: Chipotle Albóndigas Soup
Chipotle Albóndigas Soup
slightly adapted
makes 6-8 svgs.

1 lb. ground round (85% lean)
1 medium yellow onion, shredded on a box grater
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 Tbs. yellow cornmeal
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp. adobo sauce (from canned chipotles)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ c. white rice 

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
5 c. chicken broth/stock
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 chipotle chile, minced
2 c. fresh or frozen corn
2 medium zucchini, ½" dice
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

To make meatballs, mix all of meatball ingredients except rice in a bowl until combined.  Add rice and mix again until thoroughly combined.  Form into ~24 meatballs of equal size and set them on a lined sheet tray.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.

To make soup, heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, ~5 minutes.  Stir in garlic, oregano, and cumin and cook for another minute.  Add broth, tomatoes with their juices, and chipotle.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer.  Gently drop in the meatballs one at a time.  Cover partially and simmer very gently until rice is tender, ~25 minutes.  Add corn and zucchini during last 5 minutes of cooking time.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with extra adobo sauce for those who like it spicier and perhaps some crema for drizzling.

Overall, a very tasty version of Albóndigas Soup.  The one little factor that sort of bothered me was the cornmeal in the meatballs.  I think it gave them a bit of a weird, gritty texture.  My oldest son thought the same thing, the hubs didn't say anything.  Although, it didn't stop us from eating them.  I will probably use bread crumbs instead of the cornmeal next time, though.  Other than that, tasty broth chock full of veggies and meatballs with just a hint of smoky heat (stir in more of the adobo sauce from the chipotles...or just add more chipotle if you want even more heat)

photo credit: Emily Nathan
about the author:  Rick Rodgers is one of the most versatile professionals in the food business. Through his work as a cooking teacher, food writer, cookbook author, freelance cookbook editor, and radio and television guest chef, his infectious love of good food reaches countless cooks every day. He is the author of over thirty-five cookbooks on a wide range of subjects including the best-sellersThanksgiving 101 and Fondue, and IACP Cookbook Award nominees, Kaffeehaus and The Carefree Cook. Arbiter of taste Williams-Sonoma has chosen Rick to write many titles in their various cookbook lines. Rick's recipes have also appeared in Food and Wine, Men's Health, Cooking Light, and Fine Cooking, and he is a frequent contributor to Bon Appétit and blogger at epicurious. (more)

*I received a free copy of this book to review from the publisher.  All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine. 
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