Monday, February 8, 2010

Pork and Turkey Meatball Banh Mi

I've never liked meatloaf. Something about a big hunk of hamburger meat mixed with breadcrumbs and eggs just isn't appealing. And ever since my husband drew a correlation between meatloaf and meatballs, I haven't liked meatballs either.

Fortunately, I discovered Pork Meatball Banh Mi in a recent issue of Bon Appetit, and with a few modifications, meatballs are once again an enjoyable food for me. I thought the meatballs made with all pork were bit rich, so I substituted ground turkey for half the pork the second time I made the recipe. Also, I did not have the patience to wait for meatballs to cook, so I turned them into tiny patties, which got done a lot faster.

The original recipe called for a spicy mayonnaise as a condiment for the sandwiches, but since I hate mayonnaise too, I made a spicy avocado cilantro lime sauce. Sort of like guacamole, but less thick and more spicy.

I didn't have any daikon, and didn't feel like driving across town to get it, but I added cucumbers and cabbage with delicious results.


  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (or use cucumbers and cabbage...or all three!)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
  • cilantro


  • 1 pound ground pork (substitute half or all of pork with ground turkey)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil (Thai basil is good, if you have it)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

Spicy Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce
  • juice of 1/2 small lime
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce, or to taste
  • salt to taste

Toss first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Mix meatball ingredients (except for sesame oil) and form into small patties, about 2 tablespoons each. Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of meatballs. Sauté until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes. Transfer meatballs to another rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

For sauce, blend ingredients in food processor until smooth. Taste and add more chili sauce or salt to taste. There isn't really a way to mess this up, as long as you don't overdo the salt or spice.

Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell. Spread avocado sauce over each bread shell. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro, in bottom halves. Fill each with 1/4 of meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place atop meatballs. Press on baguette tops.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chicken and Cheese Soup with Green Chilies

This has been one of my favorite soups for years. It's kind of like a tortilla soup, but heartier and with cheese. The recipe comes from the Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon (best name ever). I've modified it somewhat by adding black beans and a few other things.

6 cups chicken stock
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts or 1 to 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
3 tomatoes, chopped
2-3 fresh green chilies, chopped
(or substitute one can of Ro-tel and one can of diced green chilies for the tomatoes and green chilies)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 to 1 whole fresh jalapeno, diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle sauce or powder (optional)
1 can black beans
1/2 cup flour
1 cup milk or half-and half
12 ounces grated sharp cheddar
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish

Boil chicken breasts in chicken broth until cooked through. Remove chicken and strain broth back into the pan. Let chicken cool, then dice.
Add tomatoes or Ro-tel  to chicken broth and bring it back to a boil.
Meanwhile, saute onion in butter and oil in a large skillet until translucent. Add garlic and chilies and let cook for another 2-3 minutes, then add spices. Blend in flour, a bit at a time. Gradually add milk or half-and-half and stir until smooth and thickened.
Put a ladle of chicken broth into skillet and stir. Then add skillet's contents, along with the black beans, to soup pot and cook at a bare simmer over low heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes.
Slowly stir in the grated cheese and cook until it's blended and fully melted, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper. Add hot sauce if it's not spicy enough.

Serve with more cilantro, lime wedges, avocados and lots of tortilla chips.