Albóndigas de la Familia Ronstadt (Ronstadt Family Meatballs)
Fragrant with mint and cilantro and a hit of oregano, these delicate Mexican meatballs have served Linda Ronstadt’s family for generations. They were lunch for her grandfather, or a soup course when the family gathered at her grandparent’s house. The recipe, published in her memoir-cookbook hybrid “Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands” (Heyday, 2022), is different from many traditional albóndigas recipes, which use rice or soft vegetables like potatoes or carrots to bind the meatballs. It may seem like the meatball components won’t come together when kneading at first, but stick with it. The poaching liquid becomes a broth, which benefits from skimming off the little bit of foam that appears before serving. A variation of the Ronstadt family meatballs first appeared in The Times in 1989.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 3pounds ground beef, preferably flank and round steak
- 6medium tomatoes, preferably plum
- ½cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- ½cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1medium scallion, minced
- 1small garlic clove, minced
- 2tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
- Fine sea salt and black pepper
- ¾cup olive oil or melted lard
- Lime wedges, for serving
Step 1Heat your broiler. Put the ground beef in a large bowl.
Step 2Broil the fresh tomatoes just until the skins can be removed easily (the skins will split and char in spots), 7 to 10 minutes. Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds and purée the flesh in a blender. There should be about 1 1/2 cups.
Step 3Add the mint, cilantro, scallion, garlic, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper to the meat; mix well. Add the tomato purée and knead the mixture until incorporated.
Step 4Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the oil or melted lard to the meat mixture, incorporating it by kneading. The mass should be neither dry nor too liquid. Test the mixture by forming a piece into a ball the size of a walnut. It should hold together.
Step 5Proceed to form walnut-size balls, and then drop a few at a time into the boiling water. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until all the meatballs are cooked through. Serve the meatballs in the liquid in which they were cooked, with lime wedges on the side.