Thursday, April 19, 2012

Albondigas aka Spanish Meatballs

When I think of Spanish food, I think of paella and tapas. What kind of tapas? Thinly sliced cured meat, olives, small fried fish, and tortilla. I’ve never had Spanish food before, nor have I ever attempted to make any of the dishes.


A friend of mine was organizing a potluck get together with a Spanish tapas theme. I looked up some stuff and decided I’d try to make Spanish meatballs (aka albondigas). I didn’t know what herbs and spices they used, but I found out that they do use smoked paprika, cumin, and parsley in their cooking.

With that in mind, I just threw something together. It’s not legit by any means. I totally made this recipe up, but I actually measured the ingredients so that I can share it with you. Here's the recipe for my Spanish-inspired meatballs:

1.240 kg            Ground pork
0.535 kg            Ground chicken
3 Cloves             Garlic, minced
106 g                  Sardines, chopped finely
5 tbsp                 Paprika
3                          Small onions, finely diced and sautéed
5 tbsp                 Seasoning sauce (Maggi)
5 tbsp                 Cumin
½ cup                Breadcrumbs
Parsley, Cilantro
Black pepper, Salt, Sugar

1½ Bottles        Passata
2                           Small onions, finely diced and sautéed
Black pepper
Salt, Sugar, Rosmary



For the meatballs, the ground meat, minced garlic, chopped sardines, sautéed onions were mixed together in a giant bowl. I added one whole can of sardines, which was quite pungent. I added everything else and kept adjusting the filling by adding more cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. The cilantro was needed to add a nice brightness to the meatballs. Every time I made an adjustment, I took a sniff of the mix and then cooked a bit in a small pot of boiling water.

The flavour of the sardines was aggressive, but the cilantro pleasantly came through. I knew that the tomato sauce, which I had not made at that point yet, would’ve mellowed out the sardines some more.



Once I was satisfied with the flavour, the tomato sauce was made. Cumin was added into the sauce to tie the cumin from the meatballs together. The sauce was gently simmered on the stove, as I brought out our griddle and browned the meatballs on medium-high heat in batches. I flattened each of the meatballs to make it the whole cooking process quicker. So they weren't Spanish meatballs. Spanish-inspired meat nuggets is probably a better description.



I wanted to finish the meatballs in the tomato sauce, so the meatballs were still raw in the middle. I was hoping that if the meatballs simmered in the cumin-scented tomato sauce, the flavours would get along and turn into something beautiful.


I was much happier with the sauce than the meatballs. Instead of playing a supportive role in the overall flavour of the meatballs, the sardines became the star that no one really liked. That was my fault. I found the meatballs too firm as well. Whenever I make something with ground meat, I usually add half of the same amount of fillers, like breadcrumbs, napa cabbage, tofu, etc. If I could improve the meatballs, I’d add more breadcrumbs, less sardines, and get some smoked paprika instead of the regular stuff.

At the potluck, DG made some tasty pan con tomate with prosciutto by toasting some bread, rubbing garlic on the toasted bread, topping it with a mix of tomatoes, salt, and olive oil, and then blessed each slice of dressed bread with prosciutto. There were also prosciutto wrapped melons, bacon wrapped something, stuffed peppers, and taquito. Of course, we munched on these and then washed them down with two kinds of sangria. We all had a great time and vowed to have more themed parties.

The following afternoon, I ate the meatballs and the sauce with hot (store bought) naan bread. I ended up chopping up a meatball or two, with the side of a spoon, into a quarter cup of the sauce. Then with the fluffy naan bread, I mopped up all the sauce and little bits of meatballs. It was so amazing!

Despite the fail meatballs, I’ll definitely be making this again.


  1. I remember a cooking class where we made albondigas. They were so yummy! These look even better, thanks for sharing!


We'd love to hear your thoughts!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...