Note: When we were putting together the "Mexico in L.A." issue, we suddenly started discovering great Mexican food all over the city. But this particular recipe came from a rather surprising place--one of the world's best California-Italian restaurants. Eloy Mendez works at Campanile, where he has become famous among the waiters and kitchen-workers for the albondigas that he occasionally cooks up for staff meals.
4 cumin seeds
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
6 whole peppercorns, freshly ground
6 whole cloves, freshly ground
5 mint leaves, chopped
2 to 3 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
2 pounds tomatillos
4 cups boiling water
5 cloves garlic
1/4 pound long green chiles, roasted and peeled
1 1/2 cups cilantro sprigs
1/4 cup oil
Chop 1 onion. Grind 2 cumin seeds to make about 1/8 teaspoon. Combine beef, pork, ground cumin, ground peppercorns and cloves, chopped onion and mint in bowl. Mix thoroughly with hands. Form into 1-inch meatballs, putting pieces of hard-cooked egg inside each meatball. Set aside.
Place tomatillos in boiling water with garlic, remaining 1/2 onion and 2 cumin seeds. Cook until tomatillos are tender. Place in blender with green chiles and 1 cup cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Puree mixture. Heat oil in 5-quart Dutch oven. Add pureed chile sauce and meatballs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer about 20 minutes. Stir in remaining cilantro. Makes 6 servings.
Note: If all-beef meatballs are desired use 2 pounds beef.
Each serving contains about: 530 calories; 384 mg sodium; 169 mg cholesterol; 39 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 32 grams protein; 1.33 grams fiber; 66% calories from fat.