Tortilla chip crumbs
#100daysofcooking, Recipes

Day 76: There’s Acapulco gold at the bottom of the bag

Mexican Turkey Balls with Shallots, Jalapeno, Red Pepper and Tortilla Crumbs

My lovely wife Therese will stash mostly eaten, slightly melted Power Bars all over the kitchen, and leave them there for ages. She wouldn’t dream of throwing out a tiny smattering of lentils, no matter how often I profess a deep and profound hatred for them.

But she’ll deep-six tortilla chips at the slightest provocation. My tortilla chips. Perfectly good ones. Well, perfectly imperfect pieces of what used to be tortilla chips. The dregs, as it were. I happen to think they are the Acapulco gold at the bottom of the bag, but out they go.

When I can get away with it — if she’s outside scarfing down 13-month-old Power Bars on a long run, for instance — I transfer the chip bits to a sandwich baggie and hide them for safekeeping. Not to eat with salsa, mind you. That’s another stained shirt just waiting to happen.

I grind them up until they’re basically tortilla flour, and use them as an ingredient in something else. That makes them a perfect candidate for Castoff Kitchen, and it just so happens that I’m pinch-hitting again today.

I have used crushed tortilla chips to coat chicken strips, and didn’t hate the result. So I thought, why not Mexican turkey balls?

I winged it with the recipe and they wound up taking on just the right amount of tortilla flavour. The tomato sauce and melted cheese helps keep them moist if they have dried out at all during the cooking process.

Kitchen Castoff used

Tortilla chip crumbs, ground up

Balls going to oven

This is how we did it


  • 500 g ground turkey
  • ½ cup ground tortilla chips
  • ½ cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • Half a red pepper, minced
  • Half a jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 rib celery, peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the balls

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grind up the remnants of a bag of salted white corn tortilla chips, either with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Toss them into a large bowl with the turkey, egg, black pepper, half the cheese, cayenne and cilantro, mix well, form a large ball, and refrigerate.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a medium saucepan, and saute the shallot, celery, red pepper and jalapeno pepper for five minutes, then add the garlic and saute for another couple of minutes. Take the mixture off the heat and allow it to cool.

Raw balls in pan

Add that mixture to the turkey and blend well. Form the meatballs. I made mine the size of golf balls. If you like bigger balls, well, it’s a free country.

Heat the other tbsp of oil in a large saucepan, add the meatballs about a half dozen at a time, leaving plenty of space between them. Brown the meatballs on both sides and remove. Don’t wash the saucepan. You’ll need it for the sauce.

Place the browned balls in a large baking dish and cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, making sure to flip them halfway and test them to ensure they are cooked through.

For the sauce

Put the saucepan back on medium heat. Deglaze with the wine to get the good brown bits up. Pour in the tomato sauce, add salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Remove the cooked balls from the oven. Pour the sauce over the balls, sprinkle remainder of the Monterrey Jack cheese on top and heat until cheese melts before serving.

Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.

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