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Spanish Meatballs Albondigas

Spanish Meatballs Albondigas
"These delicious meatballs are served with toothpicks for tapas, but can easily be turned into a meal by serving them with pasta or crusty bread and a salad."

This recipe can be made in stages for ease or preparation, the meatballs can be mixed and rolled a day or two before or even frozen.

Chef Heidi Fink has perfected this meatball recipe and has shared it with the world to try.

Whip up some meatballs:

 

INGREDIENTS:
Meatballs (Albondigas)
  • 2 slices good quality white bread, crusts removed
  • 1/3 cup whole milk or buttermilk
  • 30 grams Manchego cheese, grated finely (about 1/3 to ½ cup), OR Romano, OR Parmesan
  • 40 grams shaved and finely minced jamon de Serrano, OR prosciutto, OR pancetta
  • 3 Tb minced onion (about ¼ onion)
  • 3 Tb minced parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • ¼ tsp salt, or more, to taste
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika (use Spanish paprika, if you have some)
  • 225 gm (½ lb) ground beef (preferably from the chuck)
  • 225 gm (½ lb) ground pork
  • Optional – flour for coating
  • Oil for frying
Sauce
  • 4 Tb extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup finely diced onion (you can use the ¾ onion left over from making the meatballs)
  • 30 g shaved and finely chopped jamon de Serrano, OR prosciutto, OR pancetta
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced dried New Mexico chile (avail at Market on Yates), OR ¼ tsp red chile flakes
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika (Spanish, if possible)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups canned whole tomatoes, pureed with their juice (about ½ large can)
  • ¼ tsp salt, or more, to taste
  • ½ cup minced parsley
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water, as needed
METHOD:
  1. Tear the bread up into little pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the milk or buttermilk and let soak for 5 minutes. Use a fork to mash this mixture into a paste. It must be in a paste – this is very important, otherwise you end up with chunks of bread in your meatballs. Another option is to grind in a food processor after soaking. 
  2. All of the ingredients (other than the ground meat) should be very finely minced or even pureed. This helps enormously with the texture and flavour of the meatballs. if your knife skills aren’t what they could be, or you are just plain tired, fell free to place the jamon (or prosciutto), the onions, the parsley, and crushed garlic in the food processor.
  3. Heat 2 Tb of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute for several minutes, until onion is translucent. Add minced jamon or prosciutto, and saute two minutes more. Add garlic, chile, and paprika, sautéing about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the wine, stir well, and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and salt and simmer the sauce for 5 to 10 minutes, until the flavours are blended. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. Albondigas can either be deep fried or pan fried. Deep frying is more traditional, but pan-frying is almost as good. For deep-frying, heat a cast iron pan with 2 cups of oil in it until the oil is at 350 F. Lightly coat the meatballs in a thin dusting of flour. Fry them, 12 at time, for a minute on each side, until lightly crispy and golden. Remove to a paper-towel-lined tray and repeat with the rest of the meatballs. (They won’t be cooked all the way through, but they will finish in the sauce). OR you can pan fry them a minute on each side in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, until light brown.
  5. Either way, place the meatballs in the tomato sauce. Return the tomato sauce to the heat. Add enough chicken broth or water to the sauce to loosen the consistency enough to help the meatballs cook (one cup of broth should be enough to start with). Simmer the meatballs in the tomato sauce for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, so they cook through and the sauce and the meatballs share some flavours back and forth. Add a bit of chicken broth or water to the pan, as needed, if the sauce looks too dry.
  6. Just before you are ready to serve the meatballs, stir in the ½ cup minced parsley and the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into the sauce. Serve immediately, either on a platter with toothpicks in each albondigas for tapas, or in a big serving dish with warm crusty bread to mop up the sauce if this is for a meal. (Another option is to add an extra 2 to 4 cups of chicken broth to the sauce and serve the Albondigas as a delicious meatball soup. Really satisfying!)

 

NOTES:

Or a pasta variation: I added chopped kale to the pasta in the last two minutes of cooking, then drained and added it all the to the meatballs and sauce.

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