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SPANISH MEATBALLS IN SAFFRON SAUCE

ALBONDIGAS EN SALSA DE AZAFRÁN

Every country boasts of an individualistic rendition for these crowd pleasing round morsels and in Spain meatballs are criminally outstanding, almost falling under a denomination of their own accord.  If you’re a meatball lover and your only experience has only been the Italian type over spaghetti, then you’ve not seen the forest for the trees.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Italian fare.  It’s prodigious with every regional specialty making it unforgettable and their meatballs are just as venerable.  The same applies for Spanish regional cooking, which generates mind-blowingly succulent recipes, and in its simplicity this one is one of the many.

 

MEATBALLS

½ LB each of ground sirloin and ground pork

1 medium onion – very finely chopped

2 garlic cloves – passed through a garlic press

1 egg – beaten

2 TBSP of regular breadcrumbs mixed with 3 TBSP of milk

3 TBSP white wine

¼ TSP (heaped) of freshly grated nutmeg

1 TSP Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

½ cup of chopped parsley

 

SAUCE

10-15 threads of saffron

2 garlic cloves

3 TBSP very finely chopped sweet onion

1 bay leaf – preferably fresh

½ cup of white wine

¼ cup of low sodium chicken stock

1 TBSP APF

2-3 TBSP finely chopped parsley

1 TSP of corn starch mixed with 1-2 TBSP water

 

Peel the garlic cloves and pass them though a garlic through a press and then chop them together with the parsley.  Add that to the egg, with the nutmeg, wine, salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Whisk well till incorporated.

Add the meat into a working bowl and add the egg mixture and the breadcrumbs soaked in 2 tbsp of milk.  Don’t overmix.

Form into 1″ balls and allow them to sit in the fridge for about 1 hour for the flavors to marry. Place some flour on a shallow platter for dusting the balls.  Heat about 3 TBSP of olive oil and fry them so they are golden on the outside but still raw inside.  Set on paper towels.

Mix the white wine and the chicken stock together.  In a Dutch oven heat about 3 TBSP of olive oil and 1 TBSP of butter.  Sweat the minced onion with a pinch of salt and the bay leaf.  Add the finely chopped garlic and cook for minute.  Add the APF and toast for a minute or so stirring with a spatula.  Incorporate the liquids slowly, as you want a smooth sauce not overly thin, whisking continuously.  Add some chopped parsley and kosher salt.  Nestle meatballs in the sauce and simmer for about 10-12 minutes.

In a mortar and pestle, mash the saffron threads to release their aroma and oils.  Add them to the sauce with the cornstarch mixture and simmer for another 10 minutes.

NOTE

I typically never add raw vegetables into raw meatballs of meatloaf.  However, the 2 garlic cloves added here are not only passed through a garlic press first, but they are chopped even more finely with the parsley.

The sauce needs to be silky and velvety, but not too thin.  You can take the meatballs out of the sauce and puree sauce with an immersion blender.  I leave mine as it, as that is typical in Spanish rustic cuisine.  The aroma of these meatballs cooking most assuredly will cause conniption fits in your household and flavor jets will be salivating.

Follow these techniques in my Meatball 101 section to ensure the best execution for a superior tasting ball.

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