Thursday, October 16, 2008

Caldo de Albondigas (Meatball Stew)

This is my mother's recipe, it is a Mexican dish (well since she is Mexican and I've seen this stew at other Mexican households but it's not as good in other places), I helped her cook it today. It is extremely healthy, it is a stew with a variety of vegetables, in which meatballs flavored with fresh mint are simmered, then incorporated well into the stew.

This stew is eaten with just warm corn tortillas, and the stew on the side. It's flavorful, soothing, very easy to digest yet satisfying BUT I eat it with just a bowl of rice because I like rice better.

It has a vegetable that maybe other's aren't to familiar with it's called "Chayote" it is a potato sized, pear shaped, vegetable with a light green outside, it's inside is starchy yet it sort of reminds me of a Cucumber in flavor, it's hard for me to describe because it has a really light taste. It is also used in Cuban cuisine, my grandmother would buy a variety of it that was larger and had spines, but she would steam it, peel it, and serve it with "Mojo de Ajo"

Serves 12 hungry people (makes great leftovers!)

Ingredients for meatball:
-1 lb ground beef
-1 cup cooled cooked white rice
-1/4- 1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
-2 eggs
-2 cloves garlic minced
-1/4 cup minced onion
-salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the rest:
-2 large beefy tomatoes chopped
-1 medium onion minced
-2 cloves garlic minced
-water (enough water to make into a stew, like enough to cover veggies)
-3 peeled medium potatoes chopped into medium 1 inch squares
-1 chayote chopped into medium 1 inch squares
-3 carrots cut into rounds about 1 inch pieces
-1 corn cob cut into 1-2 inch rounds
-1/2 lbs. of green beans, washed trimmed
-2 Mexican squash (may sub for Italian Squash) cut in half then into 1 inch thick pieces
-1/4 of a large cabbage or 1/2 a medium or small cabbage cut into 1 inch medium squares
-1/2 a large bunch of spinach, washed well, coursely chopped
-1 cup cilantro
-salt and pepper to taste
(I forgot to take a picture of the spinach)

(1)Mix all the meatball ingredients together, form into medium small meatballs or whatever size you want BUT DON'T MAKE NO JUMBO SIZED ONES. Set aside.
(2)In a large pot, heat oil on medium high (I use olive oil, lard is more traditional here) then sautee onions until translucent, add garlic sautee til fragrant, now add tomatoes chopped until they release some juices and cook a bit.
(3)Add water (you may boil water before you even start all this to have hot water ready) so add water to sautee and bring to a boil.

(4)Add potatoes, carrot, corn, chayote, green beans, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
(5)Now add cabbage and squash, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

(6)Now stir in spinach and cilantro, add more water if necessary. Stir in until it starts wiling.
(7)Carefully place meatballs over into soup over the top, DO NOT MIX IN or the meatballs will fall apart, so cover and let them steam for 5 minutes, now they will be firmer, so you may CAREFULLY fold them into the stew let them boil in the stew another 5 minutes. To check if meatballs are done, take 1 out and cut in half if the center is cooked it's done.
P.S. Towards the end of this month my grandmother from my mother's side (whom is Mexican) is coming, so expect lots of new Mexican recipes added to this blog I will be learning plenty more! (My other grandmother who is Spaniard/ whom settled in Cuba then USA is from my father's side just to clear up any confusion :)

If you can't find "Chayote" feel free to make the stew without it, the spinach is optional. People from "Yucatan, Mexico" like to add 2 tablespoonfuls of chipotle in adobo sauce to this meatball stew to make it spicy, we don't. Also we don't make this to watered down in my house, poorer or stingy people like to make this stew very watered down were it's to the point of fishing for the vegetables and meat in a huge lake ha ha! The other reason could be because some people just like it really soupy like they like eating the soup then drinking lots of hot broth.