Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Albóndigas en Salsa Verde (Meatballs in Tomatillo Salsa)

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4-6 servings
A Mexican-style albondiga, beef and rice meatball, served in a warm tomatillo salsa.

Simple and comforting are the words that come to mind when preparing this Mexican-style beef meatballs in tomatillo salsa. A few fresh garnishes and some warm corn tortillas, and your friends and family will be asking you to prepare Albóndigas en Salsa Verde often.

This recipe can be adapted for the slow cooker and the salsa can be prepared in various ways. If you’re not crazy about tomatillos, add Roma tomatoes instead. Mix in a little grated cotija cheese to the albóndigas for added flavor. There are many ways you could enjoy this simple, but delicious dish, both as a main course or as an appetizer.


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  1. In a large bowl, place all of the ingredients for the albóndigas in the order listed. Mix with hands just until combined. Make 8 equal meatballs, place onto plate, cover and chill until ready to use.
  2. Place the peeled and washed tomatillos in a pot of boiling water and cook for 7 to 10 minutes. Drain all of the water and transfer tomatillos to the blender. Add the 2 sliced serranos, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and half teaspoon pepper. Secure the lid with a thick kitchen towel. Hold down lid and pulse to blend until smooth, set aside.
  3. In a pot or deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and whole serrano pepper. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 6 to 8 minutes. Add salsa from blender and all of the remaining ingredients in the order listed.
  4. When the salsa comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and taste for spices. While it is simmering, gently drop in the albóndigas, making sure they are mostly covered in salsa. Cover and continue cooking at a simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring gently once during cooking time.
  5. Garnish with more crushed red pepper flakes, cilantro, avocado and lime. Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Chef Notes

Adding extra broth to the salsa helps in the cooking of the meatballs. Adding pure salsa would result in a much thicker sauce. To prepare a red salsa, just replace the tomatillos with Roma or plum tomatoes. A day later and the albóndigas are even more flavorful than the night before!

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