SPANISH MEATBALLS IN ALMOST SAUCE – ALBONDIGAS EN SALSA DE ALMENDRAS
Another dish that derives from ancestral Spanish culinary archives, passed down in generations from grandmothers, mothers and daughters. It showcases the lovely simplicity of rustic farmhouse Spanish cuisine. This humble, but succulent meatball recipe is from the southern part of Spain, Andalusia to be precise. Typically, I don’t add raw ingredients into ground meats – such as meatloaf of meatballs, however in this case the garlic has been passed through a garlic press and the pieces are minuscule.
2 garlic cloves – through a garlic press
½ cup of very finely chopped parsley
2 eggs – beaten
4-5 TBSP of bread crumbs – soaked in a small amount of milk
¼ cup of white wine
½ LB each of ground lean pork and ground sirloin
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Some finely grated fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup of blanched almonds (see below to remove the skins form almonds)
1 Medium size onion – chopped
3 garlic cloves – roughly chopped
½ cup of white wine
Good pinch of saffron
1 ½ cups of low sodium chicken stock
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 Bay leaf
In a deep bowl add the beaten eggs, the garlic, parsley, fresh nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix very well. Add the ground meats, the wine and the soaked breadcrumbs. Mix all the ingredients with your hands. If the mixture is too wet, add a few more dried breadcrumbs. Don’t over mix. Roll the meatballs into the size of small ping-pong balls and dust in flour, shaking off any excess.
Heat up about ¼ cup of olive oil in a frying pan with high sides. Fry the balls until slightly golden – you don’t have to cook them all the way as they will finish braising in the sauce. Remove from the skillet and set in a platter lined with paper towels.
Remove some of the oil from the skillet and leave enough to sweat the onion over medium heat. In a separate small skillet, add a small drizzle of olive oil and toast the almonds for a few minutes until slightly golden and remove to a bowl. In the same skillet add the slices of garlic and ensure they toast and don’t burn and remove to the bowl with the almonds. Do the same with the two slices of bread so they are toasted in the oil.
Using the plastic cup provided with an immersion blender or a large mason jar, add the fried onions, the almonds, fried garlic, some chopped parsley, the bread, ¼ cup of white wine and the chicken stock. Pulse with the immersion blender to obtain a thick sauce.
Add the sauce into a pan with high sides and heat adding the saffron, salt and fresh cracked pepper. Incorporate the meatballs and cook for about 20-25 minutes, covered, adding a bit more chicken stock in case the sauce becomes too thick. Have some baguette to mop up the sauce, as it’s the best part of this dish!
Blanched almonds are required in many dishes, not just Spanish. Store bought are fine but get costly. The technique for removing their skins is so effortless, you will refrain from purchasing them and doing it yourself.
In a small pan – add about 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil (or more depending on the amount of almonds you are using). When the water is boiling add the almonds and boil them for 1 minute. Don’t boil them any longer or they will soften. Immediately drain them through a colander and run them under cold water to cool them. After blotting them dry with some paper towels, you’ll notice their skins have become wrinkled and loose. Pinch each almond between your thumb and forefinger and they will come out of their casing.
Don’t exert too much pressure or you will have almond projectiles flying across your kitchen. Although it might provide for some stress relieving entertainment after a long day, your family will definitely think you’ve lost your marbles.