If good Sicilians love the joys of a meatball, then it’s no surprise that good cooking Sicilians know how to whip one up with class. Consider me a fan, nay a fanatic, of the meatball. So much so that I love them in all shapes and forms, from the Vietnamese variety as delicious Bo Vien in a steaming bowl of pho, to this recipe for piquant albondigas, Spanish meatballs flavored with paprika and cooked in a red pepper and sherry sauce. For you red sauce fanatics out there, this one is a lovely change of pace.
Albondigas are often found as part of tapas, a collection of small plates of both hot and cold nibbles hailing from Spain. These are served in sauce in a small clay dish with nary a bit of pasta or rice as accompaniment. As such, you’ll probably want to get a good-quality, crusty loaf of bread to use to sop up this absolutely delicious sauce. Throw in a dish of garlicky olives, manchego cheese, marinated mushrooms, and manchego cheese for a simple Spanish spread. Or make a few other cooked tapas, like a Tortilla Española (a simple Egg and Potato omlette) or Pollo al Ajillo (chicken sauteed with garlic and sherry), and feast like a champion matador minus the unnecessary bull-slaying. Olé!
The real trick to these guys, as with most meatballs, is to sear them very well before plunking them into your sauce of choice for slow-cooking. Doing this allows the meatballs to keep their shape, seal in the juices, and allow them to become meltingly tender after cooking. You want them dark brown before adding to the sauce to keep things awesome. And for you, I want nothing less than awesome.
Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs)
1 lb. of ground pork
1 lb. of ground beef
3 cl. of garlic, minced
3 tbs. of chopped flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbs. of fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 tsp. of paprika
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
2 tsp. of salt
1/4 of a large onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. of bread crumbs
1 tsp. of worchestershire sauce
2 tbs. of olive oil
24 oz. jar of piquillo peppers, drained (can use roasted reds instead)
1 16.5 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
2 tbs. of olive oil
1 tbs. of sherry
salt and pepper
1/2. c. of chicken broth
1/2 c. of dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Add pork, beef, garlic, parsley, oregano, pepper, salt, onion and worchestershire sauce to a large bowl and mix well. Mix in egg and bread crumbs and set aside. Wash hands well and then wet them thoroughly. Scoop out about 2-3 heaping tablespoons into your hand and roll into a ball. Place on a plate and continue to roll meatballs.
To a food processor or blender, add the piquillo peppers, the tomatoes with juice,two tbs. of olive oil and the sherry. Pulse until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and season accordingly. Pour mixture into a dutch oven and put over medium-low heat to simmer.
Heat the remaining 2 tbs. of olive oil in a skillet. In batches, brown the meatballs on all sides, making sure to sear them well. As they finish, add them to the piquillo pepper sauce. When all meatballs are browned an the skillet is still hot, carefully add the white wine to the pan. As the wine reduces, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth and continue to reduce by half. Pour liquid into the pot with the piquillo sauce and meatballs. Cover dutch oven and place into the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, checking after a half an hour to make sure that the sauce hasn’t thickened too much. If it looks as if there is no liquid left, add a 1/2 c. of water, recover and cook for the last 15 minutes.
To serve, remove albondigas to a dish and top with the piquillo pepper sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.