Albondigas Tacos

"Instead of using breadcrumbs to thicken the meatballs, my grandma used corn flour, which makes them lighter. I do a mix," says Aaron.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 5 min
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
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Ingredients

2 heads garlic

3 plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

2 medium onions, quartered

2 small poblano chile peppers

2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotles in adobo sauce

2 tablespoons lard or shortening

2 cups beef or chicken stock

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 teaspoons adobo seasoning

Freshly ground pepper

1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons chipotle puree (pureed chipotles in adobo sauce)

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 large eggs

1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 1/2 pounds ground beef

4 cups panko breadcrumbs, plus more as needed

1/2 cup masa harina (corn flour)

1 tablespoon adobo seasoning

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

20 small flour tortillas

Chipotle mayonnaise, pickled onions (see below), crumbled queso fresco cheese and fresh cilantro, for topping

Directions

  1. Make the sauce: Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Cut off the top of each head of garlic, then wrap individually in foil. Toss the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Toss the onions, poblanos and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil on another baking sheet. Roast the garlic, tomatoes, onions and poblanos, switching the pans halfway through, until the vegetables have softened and are browned in spots, about 45 minutes. (Remove any vegetables early if they?re getting too charred.)
  2. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins. Remove the skin and seeds from the poblanos; set aside the poblanos and half each of the roasted garlic and onions for the albondigas. Puree the tomatoes, the remaining garlic and onions and the chopped chipotles in a blender, scraping down the sides as needed.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Melt the lard in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the roasted vegetable puree and cook until reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour in the stock, reduce the heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened and smooth, about 10 minutes. Gradually stir in the butter until incorporated; add the adobo seasoning and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, make the albondigas: Pulse the carrot in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the reserved roasted poblanos, remaining roasted garlic and onions, chipotle puree, hot sauce, eggs, Cotija and cilantro and pulse until evenly and thoroughly mixed.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, carrot mixture, panko, masa harina, adobo seasoning, 2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix well with your hands (do not overwork the meat).
  6. Form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (about 40). Arrange on 2 baking sheets and bake until browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Toss into the sauce.
  7. To assemble the tacos, heat up the tortillas on a griddle, then spread some chipotle mayonnaise on each. Top with 2 or 3 meatballs and a little of the sauce. Garnish with the pickled onions, queso fresco and cilantro.
  8. Pickled Onions
  9. Combine 3/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, 3 whole cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then add 1 thinly sliced large red onion (separated into rings). Return to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onion softens, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let the mixture cool completely. Refrigerate in a covered container for at least 2 hours and up to 2 weeks.

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