Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Can Call Me Al......Albondigas!

For some reason, I have been in a Meatball State of Mind lately. I have been wanting to make this recipe so now seem like the appropriate time.

Meatballs take some time to prepare. It is a messy job, pushing your fingers through raw meat, mixing in raw eggs, and it isn't fun when your knuckle deep in a bowl and your phone rings. Oh well. It is easy to get over and just jump right in. It is important to achieve a consistent shape in your meatballs. Too big and it dominates the plate, too small, it might over cook. I like the size of golf ball or just a smidge smaller.

For this recipe, albondigas are being prepared for a really flavorful soup. You can it order online or find in a Mexican grocer but making your own Ancho Chile powder is key I think. Just look for dried ancho peppers in those plastic see-through bags, toast them, and then grind them in a spice grinder. The albondigas also call for roasted poblano peppers. Mild in heat but adds a nice roasted pepper flavor.

From the January '10 issue of Bon Appetit (with a few changes..):

Poblano Albondigas with Ancho Chile Soup

2 large fresh poblano chiles* (9 to 10 ounces total)
1 pound ground PORK
1/2 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup finely grated onion
1/4 cup panko
1 large egg, beaten
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons homemade ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
8 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup long-grain white rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil
4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
Chopped fresh cilantro

Char chiles under broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in plastic bag and steam 10 minutes. Stem, seed, and peel chiles, then chop finely.

Place chiles in large bowl. Gently mix in pork and all remaining ingredients. Form meat mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs.

For soup:
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add chile powder and cumin; stir 1 minute. Add broth and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir zucchini and rice into broth. Increase heat to medium and drop in meatballs. Return soup to simmer. Cover and cook gently until meatballs and rice are cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup cilantro and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season soup with salt and add more lime juice if you desire.

For toppings:
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium heat. Add half of tortilla strips. Cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer strips to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips, adding more oil if needed.

Ladle soup and meatballs into bowls. Top with tortilla strips and cilantro.

This soup was like a slap in the face. POW! Spicy, hot flavor nails you right away. I added a lot of ancho chile powder to create a nice base in the broth. The chile really comes out and makes the dish. The meatballs were like butter, mushy and comfy, and seasoned well. The tortilla strips added my need for crunch in a meal and the rice and zucchini added a nice, soft, pillowy texture to the soup. Me love Albondigas!

Meatballs are obviously versatile and each culture seasons and cooks them differently but they all achieve the same goal, a meaty ball of goodness!


  1. I just like to say "ALBONDIGAS". It is a beautiful word and your recipe sound wonderful.

  2. Looks good. Apparently, our two minds ran along the same track, though I didn't discover your post until after mine was on the Internets.