I forget how much kids love meatballs until I serve these. Grown-up kids love them, too. Use a pan large enough to fit all of the meatballs -- they will get eaten. This recipe was inspired by and adapted from various recipes in Diana Kennedy’s The Cuisines of Mexico.
4 dried guajillo chiles
6 medium tomatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
1/2 white onion, cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small zucchini, minced (about 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Tomatillo and Chile de Árbol Salsa
1/4 pound Cotija cheese, crumbled
Chopped onion and cilantro
Limes, cut into wedges
For the sauce, stem, seed, and break the guajillos into pieces. Put them in a medium-size bowl and cover them with boiling water. Cover the bowl and let sit until the guajillos have softened, about 30 minutes. Remove the guajillos with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Meanwhile, on a comal or medium-size cast-iron pan over medium heat, roast the tomatoes, onion, and garlic, turning them, until they are softened and have brown marks, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and coarsely chop. In a food processor or blender, combine the guajillos, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the salt, and pulse until incorporated but still chunky.
In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sauce and cook, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes.
For the meatballs, in a small bowl, beat the egg. In a medium-size bowl, combine the ground beef, zucchini, oregano, pepper, cumin, and the remaining salt. Mix well with your hands. Add the egg and continue to mix with your hands until it is very well incorporated.
Lower the sauce to low heat. With a soup spoon, scoop about 2 tablespoons of the meatball mix and form into a ball. Repeat the process to make 36 balls. Place the meatballs in the sauce, one by one, close together. Spoon some of the sauce over the meatballs, cover the pan, and cook on low. Stir gently after about 20 minutes, cover the pot again, and finish cooking, about 10 minutes
Serve 3 meatballs on each warm corn or flour tortilla, topped with Tomatillo and Chile de Árbol Salsa, crumbled Cotija cheese, and chopped onion and cilantro, with lime wedges on the side.