No Italian influence with these meatballs!
Albóndigas or Meatballs historically date back to the Moors crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa and for almost 800 years ruled most of the Iberian Peninsula (Modern day Spain). They dominated both the culture & the cuisine. Here in Northern Mexico there are a surprising number of Arabian & Lebanese restaurants which also feature a variety of meatballs in their menus. Albóndigas is believed to have originated from the Arabic term al-bunduga, meaning "ball." The Moorish influence followed the Spanish Conquistadors to Mexico.
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1 1/2 cups dried breadcrumbs, plain
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper ground
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup water
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
*1-3 chipotle chile in adobo, canned
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 small onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together the ground beef and pork, eggs, bread crumbs, 1 t. salt, pepper, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and water. Form into 1 inch meatballs and set aside on a piece of waxed paper.
Pour the diced tomatoes into the container of a blender along with the chipotle chilies. Blend until smooth, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion; cook and stir until tender. Stir in the remaining garlic and cumin, and cook for a few minutes to release the aromas. Pour in the tomato mixture and chicken broth. Season with the remaining teaspoon salt, and mix well. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat while you brown the meatballs.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add meatballs, but do not crowd them. Fry them in 2 batches if necessary. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned on the outside. Remove from the skillet, and place into the pot of simmering sauce. Let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for about 30 minutes. Longer will not hurt them. Longer means more flavor.
For special occasions, serve the meatballs and sauce in a chafing dish. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
*As always adjust heat according to taste!