Mexican Meatballs – or Albondigas – simmer in enchilada sauce and are topped with sour cream, radishes & cilantro. Serve them taco-style in tortillas or as an appetizer with toothpicks.
I don’t recall where it first was that I stumbled across a recipe for albondigas… Maybe in one of the five food magazines that I subscribe to, or on the internet or even on television… but the recipe kept sticking in my head. These albondigas were beef meatballs that simmered away in a richly spiced enchilada sauce… I was thinking that they’d be good served over rice or as a party appetizer.
For a while, that recipe escaped me, and I hadn’t really thought about it again until recently – when I was thinking that those albondigas would be perfect for a game day party. With no idea where I’d seen the recipe, I hit the internet to search…
What I found when searching for albondigas recipes was primarily soup – A Mexican brothy soup served with meatballs… Not those saucy meatballs that I remembered. So, I dug in further and found that in Spain and Latin America, meatballs are called albondigas, derived from the Arabic al-bunduq (meaning hazelnut or a small round object). Spanish albondigas can be served as an appetizer or main course, often in a tomato sauce, while Mexican albondigas are commonly served in a soup with a light broth and vegetables. It all started making more sense.
Spanish albondigas were what I was after, and I was after these three key points:
- I wanted them to have lots of flavor
- I wanted them to be as easy to prepare as possible
- I wanted them to be versatile so that they could be served in a number of different ways – i.e. over rice, in tacos, or as an appetizer
How Do You Make Albondigas
Starting with point number one: In order to get loads of flavor into these meatballs, I wanted to season them from the inside out – Foregoing the traditional breadcrumbs that you’d use in meatballs, and in sticking with our Spanish theme, I chose to use crushed up corn chips instead. I also threw in some onion, which helps to keep the meatballs moist, garlic, and a good amount of cilantro and cumin. You’d be happy eating these meatballs on their own, but the kicker was coming next.
Here’s where I took a shortcut – sticking with point number two – I chose to use canned enchilada sauce. Enchilada sauce can be quite time consuming to make at home and it calls for quite a few ingredients. So, I cheated a little bit. I added in a big can of sauce, enough to cover the meatballs in the skillet about halfway and then I let it all simmer together for about 20 minutes – The meatballs season the enchilada sauce as they cook away and, conversely, the sauce seasons the meatballs. The result is a nicely thickened, seasoned sauce that’s mild in heat but big on flavor.
I topped these albondigas simply, with a sprinkling of crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, radishes and cilantro. But, they would also be amazing with a hearty sprinkling of cheddar cheese over the top. If I had some avocado on hand, I might add some of that on top too.
These beauties are begging to be wrapped into a tortilla and eaten like a taco. But, they’d also be amazing served over a bowl of steamed rice. In this case, I chose to serve them as a game day appetizer – served straight from the pan with toothpicks on the side for easy snacking.
How would you serve these albondigas?
If you loved these albondigas I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
- 1/2 cup crushed corn chips
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 small onion (minced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 28-ounce can enchilada sauce
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 6- inch corn tortillas
- Toppings: Sour cream (cotija cheese, sliced radishes, cilantro, avocado)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Stir together corn chips and milk in a large bowl; let stand about 5 minutes or until chips soften. Stir in onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin, eggs, salt and pepper. Fold in beef. Shape into 1 1/2-inch meatballs (about 2 tablespoonfuls each). Evenly space meatballs on a cookie rack set in a deep sided baking sheet or on a broiler pan.
- Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until browned. Transfer meatballs to a large skillet or Dutch oven; add enchilada sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from heat, sprinkle on cheddar cheese, cover pan, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve meatballs with tortillas and desired toppings.
Wine Pairings for Mexican Meatballs (Albondigas):
- Try a Sangiovese with this dish – It’s flavors of roasted peppers and tomato are echoed by the enchilada sauce, yet it’s light-bodied and fruit forward enough to not be overpowering.
- A Tempranillo would work well here as well. It’s a mild wine that works well with the spices in many Mexican dishes.
Looking for more appetizer recipes? Be sure to try these too: