For the warm, fire-roasted salsa:
- 2 medium poblano peppers or 4 large jalapeño peppers
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
- 3-4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (1/3 palmful)
- 1/2 cup lager beer (such as Corona brand) or white wine
- 1 can tomato sauce (8 ounces)
- 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (28 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
For the meatballs (albondigas):
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1 pound ground pork
- Salt and coarse black pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 1/2 onion, grated (3 tablespoons)
- A generous handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1/4-1/3 cup breadcrumbs (a generous handful)
- 1/3 pound Spanish chorizo, casing removed and coarsely chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
- 4 crusty sub rolls or 6-inch pieces of French bread, split open or 12 small crusty dinner rolls, split (for sliders)
Toppings and garnish suggestions:
- Chopped hot pickled vegetables or pickled pepper rings
- Pimento-stuffed Spanish olives, sliced or chopped
- Cilantro or flat leaf parsley leaves
- Scallions, thinly sliced or chopped
- Shredded Manchego cheese or queso fresco crumbles
Pre-heat the broiler.
For the salsa: Halve the peppers and seed them. Place them skin-side up on a baking sheet and blacken them under the broiler with oven door open to let steam escape. Or, char them over an open flame on a stovetop burner.
Place the charred peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic food storage wrap to cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel and chop peppers. Switch the oven to 400°F.
Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a medium size saucepot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, then season with salt, pepper and oregano and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the beer or wine. Add the tomato sauce, chopped roasted peppers and fire-roasted tomatoes, heat through and reduce the heat to low to keep warm. Just before serving, stir in the Tabasco sauce and lime juice.
For the meatballs: Toast the nuts in a small pan over medium heat until golden in color and fragrant. Process them in a food processor into fine crumbs and reserve, then wipe out the bowl and return it to the base.
Place the pork in a mixing bowl and season with salt, lots of black pepper and paprika. Add the garlic to the pork, then grate the onion directly over the bowl to collect the juice from the onion as you grate it. Add the parsley, egg yolk, breadcrumbs and the reserved ground-up nuts.
Place the chorizo in a food processor and grind into a very fine chop. Add the chorizo to the pork and mix well to combine the ingredients evenly. Drizzle liberally with some EVOO.
Score the meat into four pieces and from each section form six small meatballs. Arrange the balls on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet as you roll them. Roast for 12-15 minutes, until deep golden brown. (The rack allows the heat to circulate around the meat and brown evenly without turning.)
Serve the meatballs in sub rolls topped with the salsa and your garnishes of choice. Have plenty of cold beers or soft drinks on hand to cool down with!