Rib Tips: Holy Mole’ Mexican Meatballs

February 26, 2014

Grinding your own meat at home is a great way to utilize leftover meat scraps such as the rib tips used by Chris Grove of NibbleMeThis.com in this Holy Mole’ Mexican Meatball recipe.

grilled meatballs

Grilled Holy Mole Meatballs

BBQ enthusiasts are always looking for new ways to use “rib tips”. Rib tips are the leftover trimmings from cutting down a spare rib to “St. Louis Style”. This recipe is one I came up with to use rib tips but you could just substitute 1.25 lbs of ground pork.

Holy Mole Sauce

Holy Mole Sauce

I thawed the trimmings from three spare ribs and the scrap ends of a pork loin. I carefully trimmed the rib tips and ends to get out all pieces of cartilage or bone. I popped the meat back into the freezer for an hour because partially frozen meat grinds better.

Rib Tips

Rib Tips

I used the bone and cartilage pile to make a pork stock. (A spicy one, I added a dried red chili with the aromatics.)

Next I did the first grind (coarse) of the meat using the Kitchenaid meat grinder attachment with the coarse die.

Grinding Rib Tips

Grinding Rib Tips

I divided the mix into two batches, each a little over a pound. I used one in this recipe and then one for an Asian meatball recipe I’m posting later this week.


Holy Mole’ Mexican Meatballs


1.25 lb ground pork
3/4 cup finely torn bread (I tore up a leftover yeast roll)
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp coriander, ground
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flake

Holy Mole Sauce
(adapted from Alton Brown’s Enchilada Sauce)


3-4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
2 ea chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and diced
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp roasted cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz can tomato paste
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups spicy pork stock
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1/2 ounce semi sweet chocolate


This is an accidental mole’ sauce. My plan was to simmer the browned meatballs in AB’s enchilada sauce but my spicy pork stock made it a bit “too kicky”. So I tamed it down with an extra Tbsp of sugar and the chocolate at the end. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

Make your sauce by simmering all of the sauce ingredients except 1 Tbsp sugar and the chocolate for 45 minutes. Since my sauce was heated up by the spicy pork stock I made, if you are using chicken stock or beef stock, add a tsp of red pepper flake. Shave the chocolate into the sauce and let melt. Taste for seasoning and add the 1 Tbsp of sugar and salt/pepper as needed.

If using ground pork, make your meatballs by mixing all the ingredients together by hand. Since I was grinding my own pork, I added all of the ingredients together before the second grind (fine die) and ground it all together like you would do for a sausage. I like this technique because it really integrates the seasonings with the meat.

ground rib tips

Ground Rib Tips

Either way, form the mix into 12 -15 meatballs.

Get your grill burning at 350f direct heat and brown your meatballs in 1 Tbsp of oil in a cast iron dutch oven (or brown them in a cast iron skillet on the stove top). This should take about 10 minutes.Now add about 2 cups of the mole sauce to the Dutch oven, cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should reduce and thicken up during this time.

Check the temperature of your meatballs and pull them off when they reach an internal temperature of 165f. Mine were 170f at 15 minutes but were not overcooked at all.

Grilled meatballs

Grilled Meatballs

Grilled Mole Meatballs

Grilled Meatballs in Mole Sauce

Serve over rice and top with shredded cheese and chives (or white queso, cilantro, or whatever).

Grilled Mole Meatballs

Grilled Mole Meatballs

This was an excellent dish and the only thing I would do different next time is add some veggies like corn to the rice. Or you could make this into a different appetizer by cutting the meatball sizes in half and serving in the sauce in a chaffing dish.

Related Topics: Chris Grove | Editor's Picks | Grilled Meatball Recipe | Grilled Meatballs | Grilled Mole Meatballs | Grilling Meatballs | Mole Sauce | Mole Sauce Recipe | Nibblemethis.com

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