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  • Writer's pictureHungry Tee Rex

Albóndigas (Meatballs)

A meatball is ground meat rolled into a ball, sometimes along with other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, minced onion, eggs, butter, and seasoning. Meatballs are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce. The ancient Roman cookbook Apicius included many meatball-type recipes.

In Spain and Hispanic America, meatballs are called albóndigas, derived from the Arabic al-bunduq (meaning hazelnut, or, by extension, a small round object). Albóndigas are thought to have originated as a Berber or Arab dish imported to Spain during the period of Muslim rule. Spanish albóndigas can be served as an appetizer or main course, often in a tomato sauce. Mexican albóndigas are commonly served in a soup with a light broth and vegetables.

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Yield: About 6 servings

For the albondigas:

  • 1 lb ground pork

  • 1 lb ground beef

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped and sweated for 5 minutes in pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil (sauté gently, with no browning)

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 piece of bread, soaked in milk, or 3/4 cup bread crumbs

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Olive oil for frying

  • Manchego cheese to grate

For the sauce:

  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 5 tbsp of olive oil

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • 8-10 ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

  • Pinch of sugar

  • Salt and pepper taste

  • 1 large red pepper, cut in half lengthways, core and seeds removed


  1. Start by making the meatballs. In a large bowl combine the ground beef and pork with the sweated onions, cumin, paprika, parsley, egg yolk, bread dough (or bread crumbs), salt and pepper. Mix well and shape into meatballs the size of a golf ball. Rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

  2. To make the sauce, place a medium-sized pan on a low heat, add 4 tablespoons of the oil, chopped onions, garlic and bay leaf and cook until soft for about 10 minutes. Add the red wine, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes. Add a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and season with salt and keep warm.

  3. Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the pepper halves and place on the grill until the skins are completely black all round, remove from the grill and cover with some aluminum foil and rest for 10 minutes. After this time, peel all the peppers and cut into long strips. You can also blacken on the stovetop.

  4. Heat some oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs until nicely brown on all sides. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook on a low heat without boiling for 2 minutes on each side. Add the strips of roasted peppers and serve in small dishes with grated manchego cheese.


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