Albondigas - Spanish meatballs in tomato sauce

Albondigas – Spanish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce – Classic Recipe

Albondigas can be found in almost every tapas bar in Ronda (and Spain) throughout the year, and are typically served piping hot, but cool down remarkably quickly outside of the pot. Albondigas – Spanish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce are available in almost all bars and they will have their own slightly different recipe.

Generally there are two types of sauce the meatballs are cooked in, the rich red tomato sauce, and the gravy style pale garlic sauce albondigas claras. It is important to realise that the words ‘tomato sauce’ do not do justice to the flavour of the sauce, this is not “ketchup”, it is a delicious tomato and olive oil based sauce that is quite unique to this recipe.

Albondigas can be served as a main course or as a tapa, or small appetizer. They are often accompanied by crusty bread, rice, or potatoes.

Ingredients for the Albondigas:
  • 500g (1.1 lb) ground beef
  • 225g (0.5 lb) ground pork
  • 60g (1/2 cup) breadcrumbs
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Olive oil for frying
Ingredients for tomato sauce:
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 400g (14 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 250ml (1 cup) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Instructions to make Albondigas – Spanish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, milk, beaten egg, chopped onion, minced garlic, parsley, salt, and black pepper until well combined.
  2. Using your hands, form the mixture into small meatballs, about 1-2 inches in diameter.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the meatballs to the skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the tomato sauce. In a separate pot or Dutch oven, heat some olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened.
  7. Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken or vegetable broth, tomato paste, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper to the pot and stir to combine.
  8. Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer and then add the cooked meatballs to the pot.
  9. Cover the pot and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
  10. Serve the albondigas hot, garnished with additional chopped parsley if desired. Albondigas can be enjoyed on their own or with a side of crusty bread, rice, or potatoes.
Tips to make your albondigas really stand out
  • Use a mix of ground beef and pork. Using a combination of these two meats will give your albondigas a richer and more complex flavor.
  • Toast the breadcrumbs. Toasting the breadcrumbs in a dry skillet for a few minutes before adding them to the meat mixture will give your meatballs a nutty flavor and a firmer texture.
  • Brown the meatballs well. Make sure to brown the meatballs on all sides in the skillet before adding them to the sauce. This will add a delicious crust to the meatballs and help them hold their shape in the sauce.
  • Add some spice. If you like a little heat, try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or some chopped jalapeño to the meat mixture. This will add some kick to your albondigas without overpowering the other flavors.
  • Use fresh herbs. Using fresh herbs like parsley and oregano will add a bright, herbaceous flavor to your albondigas. Be sure to finely chop the herbs before adding them to the meat mixture.
  • Let the flavors develop. After you’ve added the meatballs to the sauce, let them simmer for at least 20-25 minutes. This will give the flavors a chance to meld together and make your albondigas even more delicious!

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