Albóndigas (Spanish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce)

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Tapas are in Spain simply bar food, but outside of Spain have become very famous. In Spain every bar (with the word “bar” meaning a neighborhood hangout that is open all day and night and where you can also buy newspapers or lottery tickets) has a display on the counter that proudly displays the, often homemade, tapas. Tapas are usually straightforward and delicious. One of the most well-known tapas are albóndigas (pronounced with the stress on the ó): meatballs in tomato sauce. In my version I’ve added a bit of Spanish smoked paprika to the sauce for a nice smoky kick, and a bit of beef stock for added beefiness. Albóndigas are simple to make and well worth the effort. I served them at my 40th birthday party and they were devoured very quickly.

Ingredients

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I served the albóndigas at my 40th birthday party and made a double batch

For the meatballs

500 grams (1.1 lbs) ground beef

1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

1 egg, beaten

4 Tbsp dry breadcrumbs

3 Tbsp wine (red or white)

flour for dusting

oil for frying

1/2 tsp salt

For the sauce

1 onion, chopped

1 can (400 grams/14 oz) of peeled tomatoes

60 ml (1/4 cup) beef stock

2 Tbsp olive oil

pinch of saffron

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp tomato paste

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

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Combine the meat with the garlic, parsley and salt in a bowl. Add the wine…

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…the breadcrumbs…

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…and the egg.

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Mix with your hands until the mixture is homogeneous.

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Make balls using your hands, a bit smaller than ping pong balls.

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Dust them with flour.

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Take a gratuitous floured meatball shot.

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Heat the olive oil in a casserole and add the onions. Sauté the onions over medium heat until soft and golden, about 10 minutes, stirring now and then.

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Transfer the cooked onions to the bowl of the food processor and add the tomatoes, smoked paprika, and tomato paste.

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Process until smooth.

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Pour the tomato mixture back into the casserole.

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Pound a pinch of saffron threads with the beef stock in a mortar and pestle…

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…and add it to the tomato sauce.

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Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the sauce has become somewhat thicker.

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Meanwhile, heat plenty of oil in a non-stick frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches over high heat.

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Make sure to turn them often, so they brown evenly on all sides without burning.

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Remove the meatballs from the frying pan with a slotted spoon…

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…and allow them to drain on paper towels.

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Taste the tomato sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Add the browned meatballs to the tomato sauce…

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…and stir to mix.

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Cover and allow to simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

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The meatballs are now ready to be served. They can be reheated if needed in the microwave or by gentle heat on the stove with plenty of stirring.

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17 thoughts on “Albóndigas (Spanish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce)

  1. Stefan – I love tapas. And reading the paper. Lottery tickets, not so much. I noticed this recipe has smoked paprika, wine and saffron. That’s it, I’m sold! I especially like that they are served with a rich, deep tomato sauce. I will try these as an appetizer – or even as part of a main course, served over a pasta or grain of some sort. Albóndigas… with the accent on the O. ;-) MMMMMMMMMMM. Your photos are seriously awesome in this post, by the way. Fantastic foodie fotos! Best, Shanna

    Like

  2. Pingback: Vine-ripened Tomatoes Stuffed with Ricotta, Basil and Balsamic | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

  3. Late to the party, Stefan, but I hope there’s still a few of these left for me. They sound delicious. Your serving them with bread and a salad, as you suggested to Shanna, would make a great meal.

    Like

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