As far as food goes, Mexico and Spain don't share all that much. When I discovered something they had in common, I couldn't wait to share it with you for Tapas month on foodies plus. What are albondigas? They are made of beef and pork combined. In Mexico they are served as a soup in broth and in Spain as Tapas, or bite sized foods. My version is meant to be consumed as a Spanish style Tapa, but has the spice typical of Mexican style meatballs; the way these meatballs are seasoned is inspired by Mexican cuisine.
What makes a perfect meatball? In my opinion a perfect meatball would be moist, tender and have a great balance of flavor. These meatballs deliver all that and a crunchy exterior. They are perfect topped with the spicy, acidic glaze and garnished with manchego shavings. Ordinarily I use milk-soaked bread crumbs to achieve a tender meatball, but I wanted a Mexican twist so I decided to use cornbread in the meatballs. I made a fresh cornbread the day before, but as long as you toast the bread on a low heat to make it stale it can be made the day of, or purchased in a store. If you can’t get hold of cornbread and you don’t have the ingredients to make some, substitute the same amount of corn muffin. The sweetness of the cornbread is a fantastic compliment to spicy, tart and smoky chipotle adobo glaze.
Other than milk soaked bread the key to a perfectly tender meatball is to handle with care. The more delicate you can be and the less you handle the meatball mix and its individual ingredients, the more tender they will turn out.
The best thing about these meatballs is that they’re fairly easy to make and yet they are impressive and taste delicious.
If you don’t prefer frying them you can braise them in the glaze by adding more liquid or bake them.
Albondigas with Chipotle Adobo Ketchup Glaze
Makes approx 40 mini meatballs
1 lb. minced chuck
8 ounces minced pork
2 Tablespoons chipotles in adobo*
1 cup cornbread crumbs
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
salt, to taste
pepper to taste
canola oil, for frying
Measure cornbread crumbs into a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Pour over cornbread crumbs and stir gently. Combine thoroughly.
Allow bread crumb mixture to cool. Add all other meatball ingredients. Mix with hands gently. Combine thoroughly.
Roll the meatball mixture into 1” round balls, handling delicately.
Cover the bottom of a large saucepan in about 1” canola oil (or any neutral oil). Bring oil to medium low heat. Lay meatballs in a single layer with room in between (you may have to cook the meatballs in a couple of batches). Fry without touching for about 4 minutes.
Flip meatballs over and fry for an additional 4 minutes, or until they’re cooked through.
Brush with glaze (see recipe below) and serve with small forks or toothpicks.
2 teaspoons paste of chipotles in adobo*
3/4 cup low sodium beef broth
3/4 cup tomato paste
Bring stock to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat.
Whisk in all other ingredients.
Cook for 5 minutes, to allow flavors to marry.
Brush onto meatballs
*grind the entire can into a wet paste and freeze the rest in an ice cube tray for later use