You’ve probably all seen the cliche Italian dinner commercial where a chef proudly declares “Now that’s a spicy meatball!” I’ve never had a meatball made for an Italian dish that is actually spicy, nor would I really want that in a tomato based pasta dish, so I guess that saying will always just be a mystery to me. The idea of a spicy meatball did always intrigue me, however, but it needed to be a different application, and in a completely different setting. Take enchiladas, for instance. I love them, but that is one hard dish to make while keeping it free of simple carbs. So, I decided to make a casserole dish with enchiladas type flavors and characteristics, but stuff it full of spicy hearty meatballs so you don’t even miss the bulky and bloating flour tortillas. I always liked chicken enchiladas, so I made the meatballs out of ground chicken mixed with a jalapeno cream cheese sauce base, and now the meatball is actually spicy.
The side I like for this dish is a brussels sprouts/red onion/mushroom bake that really plays well with the main course. I know, I know, I can hear the chorus of whining already… “But I don’t like Brussels Sprouts!” I was the same way. If all you’ve ever had is boiled and mushy overcooked sprouts served with disappointment and a side of sulphur straight up your nose, then you have good reason to feel the way you do. But, if you take those same sprouts, toss in a little avocado oil, caramelize them by baking in a cast iron skillet, topped with melted Jack cheese and crumbled bacon, it transforms into one of the best side dishes you will ever try. I think my family would choose it over a sack of piping hot McDonald’s fries every time. Listen, I’m sure your mother was a saint and a fine woman, but odds are she didn’t know how to cook Brussels Sprouts worth a flip. It wasn’t her fault, no one knew better back then, kinda like lead in paint and thinking cigarettes were great for blood circulation.
Not only will cooking Brussels Sprouts this way make them delicious, but they are an absolute powerhouse when it comes to health and nutrition. Just google it and it will blow your mind what all they can do for you. I’m a case in point. I stepped too fast on a steep wood ramp in socks a few weeks ago and had one of those major cartoon falls. Think Tom and Jerry style step on a banana peel complete with a slide whistle flip land on your head fall, and that’s what I did. My feet were up in the air where my head should have been and my head and body slammed onto the ramp, my arm fell down in a small space between the ramp and wall, bent backwards and stretched at a weird angle. I hit so hard for a few seconds I could see a group of ghosts in the house standing over me, excited about the prospect of having a new voting member to break the tie about the best time to wake up the living residents in the house. Then I got up, made sure nothing that should not bend was still straight, and things that should move could still do so… and then I just went about my day. I had a work out later and was none the worse for wear, except for the cuts where my arm scraped the wood. I’m 48 years old, and I know a lot of people my age that would have been so sore and hurt from that fall, they might have been bed ridden. I would have too, if I had not changed my eating habits so many years ago. So take it from me, eat well, get healthy and strong, and when you have a Looney Tunes type fall, you can also recover just as quick as Daffy or Bugs.
I make life easier in this recipe by using Frontera Green Chile enchilada sauce that I find at Whole Foods store. Sure, you can make this from scratch, and I have, but it adds a whole day of cook and prep time. This product is made clean with the same ingredients I would use, and it tastes great. I also like using sliced jarred jalapenos, and I prefer Rio Luna organic brand, not only because they don’t add any unnecessary preservatives, but also because “Rio Luna” translates to “Moon River” and that always makes me think of the classic scene from the Chevy Chase movie Fletch, and we can all use more of that in our life. And it’s appropriate to think of that scene considering I like to wear latex gloves while making the meatballs. Here are pics to help you find those items:
Jalapeno Chicken Meatball Enchiladas Bake
- 2 lb ground chicken
- 1/2 package grass fed cream cheese, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup diced jalapeno
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 2 packages Birds Eye frozen cauliflower rice
- 1 pouch Frontera Green Chile enchilada sauce
- Avocado oil
- Chopped Cilantro
- 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained well
- 1 package organic brussels sprouts
- 1 package organic baby bella mushrooms, rough chopped
- 1 red onion, rough chopped
- 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Beanitos brand black bean chips
- 1 cup Grass fed plain yogurt
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Diced avocado and cilantro
- 3 slices cooked crispy bacon, no nitrates or sugar added
Place the cream cheese, shredded Parmesan cheese, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a hand held electric mixer until smooth, Add the egg and beat again with the mixer until the egg is completely mixed in.
Then dice the jalapeno and fold into the mix.
Prepare a large baking sheet by spraying liberally with non stick avocado oil spray, and then add the ground chicken into the bowl. I like to wear latex gloves for this, because ground chicken can be extremely sticky. I will also hit my gloves with non-stick spray, and I use a disher to scoop out the meatball portions, which I also spray with non-stick. This will make this all go a lot faster and easier. If you are not using a disher, make sure you keep your meatballs to around .8 to 1 ounce in weight, or 20 – 22 grams to ensure even cooking.
Once your gloves are well lubed, mix the chicken well with the cream cheese mix:
Use your disher and pack them fairly tight on the baking sheet:
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then pull and flip the meatballs, rotate the pan and bake another 15 minutes:
While the meatballs are baking, trim and cut a package of Brussels Sprouts into fourths, along with a rough chopped red onion, and a package of washed and dried baby bella mushrooms. Season with 1/2 tsp of sea salt, black pepper, onion and garlic powder, and if you like things spicy, you can hit it with some red pepper flakes. Drizzle with a tbsp of avocado oil and mix well:
Spray a 12-inch cast iron skillet with non-stick avocado spray and add the veggies to it. Time it to bake for 10 minutes before adding the casserole to the oven.
Heat a Tbsp of avocado oil in a large stir fry pan, and when it’s up to temp, add the two bags of frozen cauliflower rice, season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and a tbsp of ground cumin. Cook until soft and most of the moisture has evaporated from the pan:
Add the green chile sauce and the drained diced tomatoes, and simmer again over medium heat until most of the liquid is absorbed:
Add a 1/4 cup of shredded Jack cheese and mix until melted through, then add the meatballs and stir in gently, then remove from heat. Add the mix to a 13 x 9 casserole dish, then layer with the black bean chips:
Cover the chips with shredded Jack cheese and bake for 20 minutes. Once the brussels sprouts has been in the oven for 10 minutes, take out, stir well, and add back in on a lower rack. Place the casserole on the rack above for the final 20 minutes of cooking. When the time is up, cover the brussels sprouts bake in shredded jack cheese and crumbled bacon. Allow both dishes to cool on the stove top for at least five minutes:
To make a simple sauce, mix a cup of grass fed plain yogurt (not greek style) with the juice of half a lemon. Drizzle the sauce over the dish, and top the casserole bake with diced avocado and chopped cilantro:
See the list of all the Shirtless Chef recipes at www.mysaline.com/shirtless.