Mexican Sauce for Albondigas Tacos

20200310_124125It’s not often you can make a dish at home that tastes like it could have come from a restaurant. Complex flavors are hard to replicate, even with the tastiest homemade dishes. But this is one of those recipes that really does taste like it came from a professional kitchen.

It does take a long time to make, but it requires no special skills, and it’s worth it if you have an evening to devote to cooking. It will be the most special meatball tacos you’ve eaten in a while.

The recipe is adapted from Aaron Sanchez in the Food Network magazine. He provided his own recipe for the meatballs (the albondigas), but I used my own from the Sopa de Albondigas recipe. The only change I would make is replacing the rice in those meatballs with an equivalent amount of breadcrumbs, corn flour, or a mixture of the two. Bake the meatballs according to the recipe, then boil them for a further 10 minutes to fully cook them. You can make the albondigas while the sauce simmers.

Serve in warmed flour tortillas with crumbled queso fresco cheese and chopped cilantro (fresh coriander).

Serves 4-5

1 head of garlic
2 small/1 large plum tomato
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt
1/2 medium onion, quartered
1 Tbsp. chopped canned chipotles in adobo sauce, or substitute 1 Tbsp. chipotle salsa
1 Tbsp. shortening
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. adobo seasoning
Freshly ground pepper

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 450F/230C degrees. Cut off the top of the head of garlic, then wrap in foil. Toss the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzled with 1/2 Tbsp. oil and a pinch of salt. Toss the onion with the remaining olive oil on another baking sheet.

Roast the garlic, tomatoes, and onions, 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.)

Have a food processor ready. When the vegetables are done, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins. Put half of them in the food processor, save two cloves for the albondigas, and save the rest for another use. Add the tomatoes, onion, and chipotles (or chipotle salsa) and puree, scraping down the sides as needed.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400F/200C degrees for the albondigas.

Melt the shortening in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the roasted vegetable puree and cook until reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes. Pour in the stock, reduce heat to medium, and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted, then add the adobo with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and keep warm while making the meatballs.

Serve with meatballs in slightly warmed flour tortillas, topped with the crumbled queso fresco and chopped cilantro.