tapas: meatballs in tomato sauce (albondigas en salsa)

albondigas en salsa
Meatballs are one of my favourite tapa, but equally delicious as a main course, with noodles or rice. These tapas are from the La Mancha region of Spain, and are made with a mixture of minced meat, such as beef and pork. Although you could use veal or lamb (or a mixture of all). I serve them with a classic tomato sauce (there are always tubs of this in my freezer).

This is a great recipe to make with children; (they do love getting their little paws dirty!) The meatball mixture also freezes easily, so is good to make in advance for a party, or to freeze any leftovers, (not that I imagine you would have any, these are deliciously moreish!)

Serves: 8 - 10 as tapa
Skill level: Easy

500g beef mince
250g pork mince
4-5 tsp breadcrumbs
1 x garlic clove, finely chopped
½ x onion, very finely chopped or grated (preferably a sweet Spanish onion)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)
a pinch of grated nutmeg
1 x small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x egg, lightly beaten
flour for dusting
olive oil
tomato sauce
olive oil
1 x large sweet Spanish onion, chopped
2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1kg ripe fresh tomatoes, chopped (or equivalent of tinned tomatoes)
a pinch of sugar
1 x bay leaf
1 x cinnamon stick, broken into 2 lengths
4-5 tbsp sherry or white wine or sherry vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Begin by making the meatballs. You can put all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz up until mixed well. Alternatively, make sure the minced meat is very finely chopped and mix all the rest of the ingredients together. You can immediately begin making the meatballs, although I tend to leave the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes or so, to let the breadcrumbs soak up any liquid and for the mixture to firm up.
  2. Put some flour on a large plate and add salt and pepper.
  3. Slightly wet your hands, and then create the meatballs, by taking enough of the meatball mixture (about the size of a walnut) and roll into a ball. Then roll in the flour and set aside on a plate. Place the plate in the fridge for another 30 minutes or so before frying to firm up again, while you make the tomato sauce.
  4. Make the sauce by frying the onion until softened but not brown (about 5 to 10 minutes). Add the garlic and continue to cook gently for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, cinnamon and sherry. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat, to allow the sauce to simmer.
  6. Add a pinch of sugar and simmer for 20 minutes. Check the seasoning.
  7. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and quickly shallow fry the meatballs, making sure that they are browned all over.
  8. Pour over the tomato sauce and continue to simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes. (Or transfer the meatballs to an ovenproof dish and pour over the sauce. Cook in the oven at 180C / Gas Mark 4 for about 20 minutes).
  9. While these are delicious served hot, they are perfect served at room temperature.


o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Almondegas( portuguese). I just can´t get enough of these so it has to be a main course for me with rice or pasta.
I am not so keen on the cinnamon in the sauce, I usually leave this out, even though I know its traditional.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

I love these as a main course - and as a non-purest am quite happy with a big bowl of spaghetti and a few meatballs mashed into the pasta. It's my comfort food squashed on the sofa in front of the telly! (Don't tell!)

I have to confess, I wasn't sure about the cinnamon either, but have actually got to really like it - if you use a cinnamon stick it seems to add a depth of flavour - almost like adding chocolate, which seems to go well with cumin and chilli. Works perfectly well without though!

Ethnic Food said...

Metaballs in tomato sauce are delectable,. I really like your post