You can't live in Spain for long without trying your hand at the local dishes. And in Granada, that means the free tapas that make up our meals as we venture into the evening for a caña here, a copa de vino there - each accompanied by a sizeable, tasty dish perfect for a snack, eliminating any need for an evening meal. We've conducted extensive research into each of Granada's tapas bars offering Spanish meatballs, or albóndigas, and combined our favourite components of each. You will love these little balls of deliciousness.
What we're aiming for: A large bowl of meatballs to be shared as a snack at a party or plenty for 4 people sitting down for a meal: Makes 25 albóndigas (meatballs) in a tomato sauce
Note that the meatballs should be made in advance to give them time to cool down and firm up in the fridge. We recommend doing this anytime between 1 and 8 hours before continuing with the next steps.
We like to serve this dish to friends with our upcoming favourite Spanish tapas recipe: Patatas Bravas - crispy potato in a spicy tomato sauce with allioli
The Components: Albóndigas
500g minced meat: A popular Spanish mixture is 250g minced beef and 250g minced pork
2 tablespoons fresh parsley - chopped
1 onion - very finely chopped, this might be easier to put in the food processor to really get small pieces
3 cloves of garlic - minced or finely chopped
1 large egg
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs*
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
The Algorithm: Part 1 - prep the meatballs (10 minutes)
Complete this step 1 to 8 hours before you intend to serve the meal as the meatballs need time in the fridge to firm up.
- In a large bowl, mix the minced meat, parsley, onion, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs and fennel seeds with a ½ teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper. - Once mixed, wet your hands slightly and shape the meatballs into about 4cm diameters - should make about 25 small meatballs - Place the meatballs on a large place, cover with clingfilm and pop in the fridge to cool from 1 hour up to 8 hours. (Or they can be frozen at this point and thawed later on and added to the next step as usual.)
*If you don't have any breadcrumbs lying around (we keep them in the freezer for opportunities like this) you can make bread crumbs by toasting chunks of any leftover baguette or loaf in the oven. Once slightly browned and crispy, pop into the food processor with a dash of extra-virgin olive oil, a bit of Maldon salt, dried thyme and a few cranks of cracked black pepper.
The Algorithm: Part II - brown the meatballs (7-10 minutes)
First we'll brown the meatballs to seal in the flavours and give a nice seared edge: - Take the meatballs out of the fridge after cooling them for at least an hour - Heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan - Carefully place the meatballs in the pan without overcrowding them and brown on each side (you may need to do 2 or 3 batches) - As the meatballs cook, carefully scrape up the caramelised remains, leaving in the pan as a flavour for the sauce that we'll make shortly - Once browned, scoop out the meatballs and let drain on a plate while you start on the sauce
The Components: The sauce
For the sauce:
1 onion - finely chopped (should be about 1 cup)
3 cloves of garlic - minced or finely chopped
30g finely chopped jamón or prosciutto
1 teaspoon of red chilli flakes
For added spice: 3 fresh chillies - finely sliced
½ teaspoon of sweet paprika
⅓ cup dry white wine (about 80ml)
400ml can of whole, peeled tomatoes, with their juice
2 cups chicken broth
The Algorithm: Part III - make the sauce & add the meatballs (35 minutes)
- Using the same pan in which you cooked the meatballs along with the caramelised remains, add a bit more oil if needed - Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, a few minutes - Add the jamón and sauté for 2 more minutes - Add the garlic, chilli flakes, chillies (if using) and paprika and sauté for 30 more seconds - Add the white wine and bring to the boil - Now add the tomatoes, a pinch of salt and simmer for 5-10 minutes
Now it's time to add in the cooked meatballs. - Add 1 cup of chicken broth to loosen the mixture - Simmer the meatballs in this mixture for 15 minutes, carefully stirring and adding the rest of the chicken broth as you go
Once you're ready, serve the mixture in a big bowl, with a bit of minced parsley on top for garnish.
This dish goes amazingly well (taste and timing-wise) with our upcoming Spanish Tapas recipe, Patatas Bravas with grilled asparagus.
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