Spanish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Spanish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Meatballs are a traditional Spanish tapas which is basically available in all tapas bars.

Meatballs, albondigas, are a very popular tapas food in Spain. You can find them all tapas bars and they are usually served with white bread. There are two different styles of making the sauce: tomato based red sauce or yellowish one which is basically onions, garlic, saffron and stock reduced by half. We, however, prefer the tomato sauce which is basically marinara sauce and it’s easy to make as well. Actually there was a social media storm in Finland a few weeks ago when a Finnish chef Henri Alén Tweeted how to make excellent tomato sauce. This was partly our motivation to test the recipe as well. Henri recommended using canned Mutti tomatoes, but since we have access to the best Mediterranean vegetables, we decided to use fresh, but ripe ones. We made tiny adjustments to the recipe to fit genuine Mediterranean style of cooking better.

Ingredients for Spanish Meatballs for 4 Servings

  • 500 g (1 pound) of ground beef (you can mix of ground beef and pork, if you wish) – vacuno picada
  • ground black pepper – pimienta negra
  • sea salt – sal marina
  • chopped parsley – perejil
  • 4 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
  • a slice of bread soaked in milk – pan remojado en leche
  • 1 egg – huevo
  • bread crumbs – pan rallado
  • frying oil – aceite para freir

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Make sure that bread dissolves evenly in the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Shape the mixture into small meatballs. Roll them in the bread crumbs so that they are covered evenly from all sides. Fry them in batches in hot frying oil (180 ºC, 360 ºF) for 1,5 minutes. Drain excess oil to kitchen paper. Put them on the side to wait for the sauce.

Ingredients for Marinara Sauce for 4 Servings

  • 4 very ripe large tomatos – tomates
  • 2 cloves of garlic –  dientes de ajo
  • olive oil – aceite oliva
  • 1 dl (1/2 cup) of tomato paste – tomate doble concentrado
  • honey – miel
  • sea salt – sal marina
  • ground black pepper – pimienta negra
  • Spanish smoked paprika, sweet – pimentón dulce
  • 3 dried cayenne chili peppers – pimientas de Cayena

Chop the garlic fine and fry in a sauce pan in olive oil until soft.  Slice each tomato into 4 pieces and add them to the sauce pan. Let it simmer a low heat until tomatoes are soft, too. Use a stick blender to make tomatoes into puree. Add tomato paste. Season with smoked paprika, salt, ground pepper, chili and honey. When the taste is right add the meatballs into the sauce and let them simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Serve from traditional Spanish clay pots with white bread and a glass of red wine.

¡Buen provecho!

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