Friends in New Mexico know my passion for the wonderful foods from their region and I was blessed with a wonderful gift this Christmas - a Southwest Sampler loaded with all sorts of goodies including a very nice sized bag of the distinctive little buttery, slightly 'pine-y' Piñon nuts.
I stuck part of the bag in the freezer for later and used some in this "meat" ball recipe I'd been inspired by, from an issue of Edible Santa Fe (a beautiful magazine with all sorts of Southwestern yumminess in both pictures and recipes).
Of course I modified the recipe to my tastes, and to make it vegan, so it's not exactly the same as the one they posted, but the end result was absolutely delicious! The spices, raisins and chiles all worked together SO well!
I realize not everyone has access to roasted green chiles, and piñons (or pine nuts) are usually exorbitantly expensive, so this might be one of those "regional" recipes or for special occassions - canned green chiles aren't ideal, but would work - and I think I would probably substitute toasted pecans and cashews here under typical circumstances though the flavor of the piñons definitely add their own special flavor.
Making the green chile sauce "sweet" was something I hadn't tried before, but it paired perfectly with the slightly sweet, spicy 'meat'balls. Yum.
Green Chile Piñon 'Meat' Balls
1 pound "GimmeLean" vegetarian burger product
1 T. brown sugar
½ C. raisins, chopped*
½ C. piñon nuts (OR a combination toasted chopped pecans and cashews)
¼ C. onion, finely minced*
1 ¼ t. allspice
1 Tb. soy sauce
3/4 t. salt
2 juniper berries, crushed or ground very fine (optional)
½ C. mashed garbanzo beans*
½ C. fresh roasted or frozen green chile, finely chopped*
1 cup rice (or regular) flour seasoned with salt and pepper, for dredging
oil for frying
Sweet Green Chile Sauce:
3/4 C. green chiles, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white wine or apple juice
1 Tb. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup "chicken" style broth
1/4 cup brown sugar
Combine GimmeLean burger, sugar, raisins, piñon, onion, soy sauce, garbanzos, juniper berries (if using) green chiles, allspice and salt in medium bowl.
*Or optionally, pulse raisins, onions, garbanzos, green chiles until well mixed but still chunky, not mushy in the food processor bowl and then add remaining ingredients.
Mix and mash thoroughly with your hands. If too moist, add a couple tablespoons dry bread crumbs. Form into 1-inch balls (about 1 T. or smaller for "cocktail" size).
Roll each meatball in seasoned rice flour. Heat oil (I used coconut oil, as it makes things extra crispy without over browning - but use what you like) in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Fry meatballs in batches, several minutes on each side, until browned. Drain on paper towels.
Make sauce: Mix green chile, white wine, vinegar, water, broth, and sugar to make a sauce, simmer for 15 min or until reduced a bit, while frying meatballs. Pour over meatballs and serve, or bake for a while until sauce gets sticky and more evaporated and serve with toothpicks at a buffet.