Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Tiene buen sabor! Albondigas! (Or meatballs and tomato sauce to you and me).

Another recipe which gladdens my Spanish genes. When I was young, the meatball thing never appealed, but I think that is because you go them in a tin, they were covered in some indiscernible gunk and I imagined that they tasted as good as they looked. Luckily, things have moved on and I am a great fan of the meatball, especially as they make my children happy and they are not necessarily expensive to prepare, though I am a great believer that you should buy the best ingredients you can afford.

This is ideal Tapas food I suppose, and though I adore the whole Tapas thing, it's a bit of a faff when it's me, Phill, Lola and Finn, so I eked this out with some potato wedges which went equally well with the tomato sauce - I suppose I had inadvertently created patatas bravas by putting the two together. The sauce does have some punch, and I toned this sauce down from the original which suggested the addition of two red chillies as well as the cayenne pepper and paprika. Blow your mind stuff and not something that is necessarily going to find favour with two discerning mini gourmands. The cayenne pepper and paprika gives a decent kick which is tempered somewhat by the addition of potato and meat, but if something a whole lot milder is more your thing, either leave out the cayenne altogether or just put a pinch in.

The original recipe called for caul fat to wrap the albondigas in; not necessarily the easiest thing to get hold of - I decided to risk not using is. I was expecting meatball catastrophe but it didn't happen. They held together fine. Just ensure your meat mixture is well combined and squidgy to the touch.

Albondigas - adapted from Modern Spanish Cooking by Sam and Eddie Hart


For the meatballs:

500g beef mince
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp cayenne pepper
10g sea salt
4 turns freshly ground black pepper
30g fresh breadcrumbs (I blitzed up a thick crust from the end of a wholemeal loaf
a tbsp of parsley (optional)
1 egg, beaten
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

3 tbsp olive oil
1 spanish onion, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
100g peeled plum tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
sea salt and freshly ground pepper


To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves and fry until fragrant (take care not to burn the garlic) and then add the peppers and fry for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the paprika and the cayenne and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and reduce the sauce slowly for about 25 minutes or until the sauce is thick and pulpy. Taste, and season accordingly. Keep hot or reheat just before serving.

For the meatballs. Combine all the ingredients together by hand or use the food processor (be careful not to blitz too far; you want texture). Add the beaten egg to bind the mixture.

With wet hands, form the mixture into balls. You're aiming for between 15 and 20 meatballs here.

To cook, heat the olive oil in the frying pan. Add the meatballs and fry over a medium/high heat to brown the meatballs all over.

Serve with the tomato sauce.


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