By Mexico Cooks
Several years ago, Mexico Cooks! was thrilled to meet doña Yolanda Rodríguez Orozco. At the time, she was cooking at a now-defunct buffet restaurant in Morelia, Michoacán. In Mexico, ‘doña‘ is an honorific indicating true respect for a woman (it’s don for a man). Affectionately known to one and all as doña Yola, she cooked with tremendous love as the primary seasoning for whatever she put on the table.
One of the most delicious items on the menu at that restaurant was albóndigas de pollo en salsa verde (chicken meatballs in green sauce). Because I promised that I would share the recipe with all of you, doña Yola graciously shared her amazingly easy recipe with me. Quick and simple to prepare and marvelous to taste, these meatballs instantly made it to star status on Mexico Cooks! dining table. These albóndigas are entirely different from the better-known Mexican meatballs in red sauce.
A chicken vendor grinds fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast to order for me at the weekly tianguis (street market) in my neighborhood. You can ask the butcher at your supermarket to grind the breasts for you. Bring the skin and bones home to freeze for another day–for chicken broth.
Gorgeous dark green vitamin-rich spinach, ready to chop for the albóndigas.
Fresh mint grown in a pot on my terrace or available at any market, along with beautiful local red-shelled eggs.
Albóndigas de Pollo en Salsa Verde Estilo doña Yola
Chicken Meatballs in Green Sauce, doña Yola’s Way
Ingredients for the meatballs
1 kilo (2.2 lbs) freshly ground boneless, skinless chicken breast
100 grams (1/4 lb) raw fresh spinach (stems removed), finely chopped
1 small white onion, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp fresh mint, finely minced
1 chile serrano, finely minced
1/2 cup cooked white rice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp cornstarch or as needed
Ground chicken, spinach, onion, garlic, mint, and chile serrano, ready to mix with cooked rice.
Lightly mix the first seven ingredients together. Beat the eggs and Worcestershire sauce together and mix by hand into the mixture. Add sea salt and ground black pepper to taste. Add cornstarch until the mixture holds together well when you form a small amount into a ball. Form the mixture into balls approximately 2″ in diameter. Makes 20 albóndigas. Plate the meatballs in a single layer (Mexico Cooks! likes to re-use well-washed Styrofoam meat trays from the supermarket for holding the albóndigas), then cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Tomates verdes (tomatillos) and chiles serranos for preparing salsa verde. Remove the tomatillos’ papery husks and wash the sticky tomatillos thoroughly.
Ingredients for Salsa Verde
10-12 tomatillos (known in Mexico as tomate verde), husks removed
3 or 4 whole chiles serranos
1 bunch fresh cilantro, largest stems removed
Sea salt to taste
In a large pot of water, bring the tomatillos and chiles to a full rolling boil. Boil just until the tomatillos begin to crack; watch them closely or they will disintegrate in the water.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop the cooked tomatillos and chiles into your blender jar. Allow to cool slightly There’s no need to add liquid. Cover, hold the blender cap on, and blend until smooth. Be careful not to burn yourself, if you try to blend this mixture before it cools, it tends to react like lava in the blender. Don’t ask me how I know this.
While the blender is running, remove the center of its cap and, little by little, push the cilantro into the whizzing sauce. Blend just until smooth; you should still see big flecks of dark green cilantro in the lighter green sauce. Add sea salt to taste and stir.
Pour the salsa into a 2-quart pot. Add the meatballs and bring to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. Mexico Cooks! prepared six meatballs for comida (main meal of the day) for two, but two meatballs apiece were plenty for us. We ate the leftovers (and another two meatballs) the following day. We froze twelve raw meatballs without salsa for subsequent meals.
Albóndigas de pollo en salsa verde, plated with white rice cooked with carrots, Mexican style.
Mexico Cooks! is so grateful to doña Yola for sharing her recipe with us. These albóndigas de pollo are not only easy to prepare and very healthy (with high vitamin K and beta carotene content and no added fat), but they are also absolutely delicious.
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