Sunday, November 6, 2011


Yesterday, after an adventure back in time at San Juan Bautista's Living History Days, we wandered into a mom and pop Mexican restaurant. I ordered a small bowl of albóndigas and was thoroughly confused by what I received...

...two huge meatballs, one carrot, one zucchini, a wedge of cabbage, a plate of rice, a quarter of a lime, two tortillas, and no instructions about how to eat this. Was I supposed to chop it up into bite-sized pieces and mix it all together? Was I supposed to eat the components separately? I muddled my way through, enjoyed the flavors, but probably offended some of the other patrons with my complete ignorance about this tasty dish.

I did, as I always do when faced with a culinary mystery: I came home and googled it. The number of variations is astounding. Some had a tomato base, some a plain broth. Some had cabbage, some had green beans. But all had a rice-meatball simmered in broth with fresh mint and a squeeze of lime. I started with that knowledge and whipped up my own version for dinner tonight. It was a hit.

I started with a mirepoix (chopped mixture of celery, onion, and carrots) plus chopped parsley, cilantro, mint, purple, new, and Yukon gold potatoes, cooking them till fork tender.

Add stock to fill up the pot about 3/4 of the way. I used 8 C of chicken stock. Bring that to a boil. In the meantime, make the meatballs. 1 C cooked brown rice, 1 lb 96/4 organic ground beef, 1 T ground cumin, 2 T chopped fresh cilantro, 1 T chopped fresh mint, 1 egg. Mix that all together and form teaspoon-sized meatballs.

Drop the meatballs into the boiling broth. Add cubed zucchini and simmer for another 30 minutes or so, till the meatballs are cooked through. 

I placed a layer of cooked rice in the bottom of the bowl and ladeled it full of the soup. Serve with a wedge of lime. So, I have no idea if this is anything close to authentic albóndigas, but it was tasty and the boys - all three of them - loved it! This will definitely be on my soup rotation for rainy season.

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