Recipe // Mexican meatballs in tomato and chipotle broth
This is comfort food for mexicans. It is really difficult to get more `homier´ than this. Albóndigas (meat balls) is a casual everyday type of dish cooked at home but also a regular on any respected Fonda (cheap eatery) serving Comida Corrida (lunch set menus).
Variations are as many as stars, every Mamá, Doña, Cocinera or Mayora has her secret ingredient under her sleeve but mostly that hidden wow factor lies on the use of a herb, sometimes orégano and others like my Mom´s recipe is fresh mint.
However although there are many variations to this dish there is one particular thing that I believe every Mexican will agree: unlike mentioned on many Anglo-Saxon books, magazines and blogs Albóndigas (mexican style, that is) are never considered or served as Soup but as Main dish. Although the caldo (broth) is quite soupy this dish is usually served with Arroz (rice), either rojo (also known as Mexican Red Rice) or blanco (white, as in the photos), frijoles de la olla (beans cooked in a clay pot) and tortillas de maiz (soft corn tortillas).
No matter how you serve your albóndigas, just enjoy them.
To me, they are my madeleines. They transport me to my childhood and to my Mom´s kitchen.
Albóndigas en caldo de tomate y chipotle
(Mexican meat balls in tomato and chipotle broth)
Albóndigas (meat balls):
1 kg ground meat (beef, chicken or turkey or a combination of beef, veal and pork)
1 small bunch of mint, chopped in chiffonade
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 egg beaten
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
2 eggs cooked (hard egg), peeled, chopped (filling for the albóndigas)
1 kg roma tomatoes (or a similar variety like plum or san marzano)
a tbsp white onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
2-4 tbsp chipotle chilies and purée
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, the raw egg, the white onion, mint and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly either with your hands or an spatula. Cover the meat mixture with a plastic film and keep in the fridge until you´re ready to form the meatballs and your caldo (broth) is done.
In a small sauce pan, put the tomatoes and cover with water. Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from stove and add the cooked tomatoes, 1/4 cup of water of the cooking liquid, 1 garlic clove, the tbsp of white onion and the chipotle (start with 1 tbsp of chipotle puree if you´re not used to spicy food, later on you can add more chipotle chilies and purée if is not spicy enough) in a blender and purée until smooth.
Place a large deep pot or a crockpot to medium high heat and add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Once hot but not smoky, incorporate the strained tomato puree. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until it has changed to a deeper red color and the raw flavor of the tomato puree is gone. Add the chicken broth and salt and reduce the heat to low.
While your caldo (broth) is cooking up, remove the albondigas meat mix from the fridge and start making them by placing a small amount of meat in the palm of your hand, roll it between both palms of your hand to form a small ball, then gently press in the center of the meat to create a small hole, add a small piece of the cooked egg and again close the meat ball with the help of the palms of your hands. If you are having a hard time with the meat becoming too sticky you can always have a small bowl with water to wet your hands before and after shaping each meatball.
Once you shaped all the albóndigas (meat balls) add them carefully one by one to the tomato and chipotle caldo (sauce), cover the pot or crockpot and let them gently cook for 20 minutes in a regular pot or about 10 minutes in a crockpot.
Serve hot with white rice and beans