Pork is a staple of the Andalucian diet and has been so for six hundred years. In the times of religious intolerance, when Jewish and Arabic people were being expelled from Spain, the Andalucians made a point of cultivating a cuisine which would be offensive to those “infidels” who chose to stay! We live in far more tolerant circumstances today, and we can enjoy our culinary heritage with easy consciences.
Albóndigas are a quick and convenient way of using up the remains of a family joint. In modern times we simply ask the butcher for minced pork, but in the days before refrigeration (not so long ago here in Andalucia) and when strict religious observance forbade the eating of meat on certain days, there had to be a swift way of cooking up the last of the leg of pork – and albóndigas was that way!
Many are the forms albóndigas can take, including meatballs made of cod, but by far the most common are albóndigas oscuras (“dark” meatballs, simmered in tomato sauce) and albóndigas claras (“pale” albóndigas, prepared with a light almond sauce). We shall be making the latter today. (By the way, the name “albóndigas” is pronounced with the stress on the “bon”, so it’s al-BON-digas.)
This recipe will make sufficient meatballs for 6 servings
- 500 grams (18 oz) of minced pork
- 50 grams (2 oz) of bread
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of finely-chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons of finely-chopped parsley
- olive oil
- 25 almonds, blanched and skinned
- 1 slice of bread
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of caldo (ie, stock)
- 10 peppercorns
- olive oil
- half a teaspoon of saffron
- 1 small glass of white wine
Put the minced pork in a bowl. Soak the bread in milk, then squeeze off the excess and place it in with the pork. Crush the garlic and add it, also blending in the onion, parsley, salt, nutmeg, pepper and the beaten egg. Mix it thoroughly, so that an even paste is achieved.
Taking pieces of the paste, and with flour on your hands, roll them into spheres about the size of golf balls. The balls can now be fried on a gentle heat until they are cooked through. When brown on all sides, they can be taken off the heat.
Fry the almonds in oil, together with the bread and garlic. Blend the peppercorns and saffron, using a little salt, then add the almond mixture to this. Work in the wine, so that you end up with a smooth paste. This can now go back into the hot oil, to which the caldo is now added. This will need only a few minutes to form a delicious sauce.
The meatballs can now be added to the sauce, and heated gently for about 20 minutes. If the sauce starts to thicken too much, just add a little more caldo or water.