Food & Drink

Tot-Stuffed Pork Meatballs with Spicy Romesco Sauce from Tots!

In hindsight, stuffing a meatball with a tot seems like an obvious idea, but there wasn’t any evidence of it being done before! After testing the merits of precooking the tots to add an extra dimension of brown flavor and crispness, tasters unanimously agreed that the uncooked tots worked better. This is because browning the tots essentially seals them inside a crust, keeping them separate from the meat surrounding them. But when you wrap the thawed tots in meat, they really become one with the meatballs and the delicious pork flavor permeates the tots.

Tots! Meatballs

Servings: 8-10 (about 30 meatballs)


For the romesco sauce
1 large red bell pepper
1 habañero pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
25 roasted almonds
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes

For the meatballs
1 pound ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons milk
1 garlic clove, grated
1 cup freshly grated manchego cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 large egg
About 30 frozen tots, defrosted


Preheat the broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Make the romesco sauce: Put the bell pepper on the prepared baking sheet and broil, frequently rotating the pepper with tongs to blacken the skin evenly on all sides, about 5 minutes. Turn off the oven.

Transfer the charred pepper to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Remove the charred pepper from the bowl and use your fingers to peel and discard its skin. Stem and seed the pepper and place the flesh in the bowl of a food processor. Add the habañero, almonds, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. Add salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes as desired, and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Make the meatballs: Put the ground pork in a bowl and season with 1⁄2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs, milk, garlic, cheese, parsley, and egg and mix well to combine.

Preheat the broiler to high.

Meanwhile, form the meatballs one by one: Scoop 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pork mixture into your hand, place a tot in the center, and wrap the meat around the tot. The meatball shouldn’t be huge—about golf ball size (you’ll want a fairly thin layer of meat around the tot). Roll the meatball around between your palms to help round it and to seal the meat around the tot. Place the finished meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch.

Broil the meatballs, a few inches from the heat, until browned on top, 7 to 10 minutes, then flip them with a spatula and brown on the other side, about 7 minutes more. (Keep your eyes on them while they cook to make sure they don’t burn.)

To serve, pile up the meatballs on a platter, place the romesco in a bowl, and pass toothpicks for dipping the meatballs into the sauce.

More about Tots!:

Tots! CoverIt’s a fact: Americans love tots, and last year consumed 3.5 billion of them. And not just at home. From fast-food joints to high-end restaurants, chefs are joining the tot trend, serving exotically spiced tots or fun mash-ups like Totchos, with tots replacing the corn chips in nachos. But now, prepare for TOT-al domination! Created by mad-genius food blogger Dan Whalen, Tots! elevates the friendly little tater to its place in the culinary spotlight.
This irresistible cookbook with a nubby tot-texture on the cover offers 50 delicious, playful, and surprising recipes for snacks, appetizers, inspired main dishes, and inspired sides, even desserts. (Yes, you could create an entire tot-centric dinner.) Here are party dishes like Buffalo Tots and Tot Poutine. A Tot Caesar for an elegant starter. Tots for breakfast, like Tots Benedict and a Tot Shakshuka, and tots for dinner—Moules Tots, Chicken Tot Pie, Tater Tot Pizza, and Bibimtot. Side dishes—next Thanksgiving, try Sausage and Tot Stuffing. And for sweets lovers, Tot Churros (deep-fried and dipped in chocolate ganache), Apple Tot Crumble (that crispy salty tot topping really plays off the warm sweet apples), and Tot S’mores—a heavenly melt of a dish.
Every recipe uses frozen commercial tots—but Dan Whalen also shows die-hard tot lovers how to make tots from scratch and then alter their creations with different spices (think Tots Vindaloo) and sauces. It’s TOT-ally awesome.

Buy the Book
Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Workman

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