There are very few times when a whole weekend comes together like a symphony of howler monkeys but when it does, well, you feel like a freshly shined nickel. The day before the day before Christmas this year we were blessed with the company of the incomparable Martinez family. As oft happens whenever we get together, we cooked. Barney, Mike’s father, gave us a little master class in making Albondigas, or Mexican meatballs, while Kathy, Mike’s mom and my mom, Barbara, provided the color commentary. The result? Some dynamite Mexican food and an evening full of almost uncontrollable, heartfelt belly-laughter! Thank you to all.
I will never look at the church-key bottle opener the same way again, Kathy.
1 beef soup bone
1 and 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion chopped
1 TBSP finely minced onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 TBSP olive oil
2 and 1/2 quarts of water
6oz can of tomato paste
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots sliced
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 TBSP chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup long grain rice
First: Boil the soup bone in the 2 and 1/2 quarts of water for an hour.
When you’re cooking with two moms make sure they both have a full glass of wine. This is an important step because if the meatballs go wrong no one will notice.
Chop up the veggies! In a large saucepan cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until it is golden brown.
Add the soup bone broth you’ve been making for the last hour while one of the moms has been telling you a story about when she saw Led Zeppelin or went to Cuba or something. Then add in the tomato paste and salt to taste. Bring to a boil then add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer this burgeoning soup baby for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile in meatball-making land combine egg, cilantro, mint leaves, ground beef, salt, pepper, and rice.Mix well. If the meat is cold this will suck. There is nothing for it, you are just going to freeze your hands.
One of the moms may help hold the bowl for you but be sure to tell her to go back to drinking wine and telling you about her safari in Zimbabwe.
Remember it’s all for the good of meatballs and your frozen-paw-sacrifice will not be in vain. Form the meat into 1 inch meatballs. Barney above demonstrates the rolling technique.
At this point everyone will be trying to talk over one and other. We found that instituting a “talking stick,” and story time limit helps with this. We used a church-key bottle opener. Kath may or may not have exceeded her time limit!
Add a few meatballs at a time to the simmering pot of awesome. There are some who use a ladle to lower them into the soup.
Mike simply drops them in with nature’s ladle, his hand. Watch out for collateral splash-age.
After adding the whole plate of meatballs, lower the heat on your pot, add the oregano, and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the meatballs and vegetables are done.
The meatballs should start to float and be firm-ish to the touch.
Mike also prepared a small plate of chopped cilantro, oregano and finely chopped onion as garnish.
Serve with fresh lemon, salsa, and a few crushed Mexican-style tortilla chips or heated corn tortillas and Mexican rice.
All and all this was one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received. I love you guys and damn did we eat and laugh well!.
Check out this fine lookin’ group!
Until next time…