Recipe // Mexican meatballs in tomato and chipotle broth

albondigas with rice

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)

4-6 persons

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)

Caldo (broth):

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

Still con hambre?. Check more delicious recipes from my family repertoire in the Recipe Index under Mexican Recipes classification.

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  1. It’s delicious. I like itUna verguenza las mias, al lado de las tuyas! pero para mi, también son plato principal…las acompañé con ensalada de chauchas…no sé si pega, pero era lo que habia….

  2. says:

    Useful information. Lucky me I found your site
    by accident, and I’m stunned why this accident didn’t came about earlier!
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  3. Leer tu blog tiene realmente abrió mis ojos a diferentes culturas, así como me ayudó con mi español comprensión. En mi opinión, la receta era muy desafiante en mis habilidades para cocinar, pero me enseñó diferentes formas de cocinar las albóndigas. Mi albóndigas resultó muy bien. La próxima vez, quiero añadir más pimientos para hacerla más picante, porque no he podido probar el picante parte de las albóndigas. Realmente me gustó cómo la grasa el drenaje de las albóndigas en la mezcla caldosa que estaban en la cocina. Que les hizo menos grasienta y más agradable para comer. La una cosa que no me gustaba la receta era que las direcciones no parece tan claro como el que podría haber sido en algunas cosas, pero en general es un montón de diversión para cocinar las albóndigas. Por último, sugiero añadir una pieza en la lista de ingredientes para obtener carne magra.

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  5. Podés creer que acabo de comer albondigas ( termino la hora de la cena aca en Francia)
    Una verguenza las mias, al lado de las tuyas! pero para mi, también son plato principal…las acompañé con ensalada de chauchas…no sé si pega, pero era lo que habia….


  6. Sharon M. says:

    Mexican culture is awesome!!! I love it cuz it's so vast and interesting. Mexican food it's a pleasure, I share a fanpage, u can find a lot of recipes:

  7. heidi says:

    ¿Ya ves?. Las albóndigas son para nosotros los mexicanos nuestras no tan sofisticadas madeleines ;) abrazos, Nancy

  8. Wow, las memorias que me distes Heidi. Ahora estoy extrenando las albondigas de mi mami. Me encanta tu receta porque es muy differente alas de mi mami. Gracias amiga:)

  9. Tibalda T says:

    Que ricas!! ayer almorzamos albóndigas con arroz. Mi abuela que era descendiente de italianos las hacia muy parecidas a las de tu receta, aunque no se que son los chipotles :(
    Muchos cariños desde el centro de la Argentina!!

    • heidi says:

      Oh muchas gracias por tu comentario Tibalda. El chipotle es un chile (capsicum) nativo de México. En su forma natural se llama Jalapeño/Cuaresmeño pero una vez ahumado se conoce como Chipotle. Yo lo uso mucho porque no es muy picante y es más facil de encontrar en la sección de enlatados de los supermercados especializados en productos internacionales.

      Por otro lado me encantaría conocer la receta italo/argentina de tu abuela!

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