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Albondigas in Sherry Pepper Sauce

Monday, 26 May 2008


These meatballs fall into a class of tapas called "cosas de picar." Named after the picks that the picadors use during a bull fight, the term refers to those tapas that are served with toothpicks. In Spain, they would be made with minced meat, but since ground meats are more readily available, I use a combination of ground pork and beef. Traditionally these are made with paprika, but since I like my foods a little more spicy, I also add ground cayenne.


At a glance
Cooking Method
Heat Level
Appetizer/Hors d'oeuvre
Main Course
40-50 meatballs

For the meatballs:

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion, divided and used in the sauce

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Olive oil for frying, virgin Spanish olive oil preferred

  • 2 slices stale bread, crusts removed

  • ½ pound ground beef

  • ½ pound ground pork

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika

  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne

  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • All-purpose flour

For the Sherry Pepper Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, virgin Spanish olive oil preferred

  • ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup dry sherry

  • 1 cup canned chicken broth

  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley


To Make the Meatballs:

Cover the bread with water or milk and soak until the bread is softened. Remove the bread and squeeze to remove the liquid.

In a large bowl, combine the beef and pork. Add all the meatball ingredients and mix well. Form about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into small balls and roll them in the flour.

Reheat the skillet and add additional oil if necessary. Brown the meatballs in batches over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently so that the balls retain their round shape. Remove and drain.

To Make the Sauce:

Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until soft. Add the paprika, cayenne, and the flour. Continue to cook for an additional minute.

Whisk in the sherry and chicken broth, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer, turning the meatballs occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes until they are cooked and sauce has thickened slightly.

Serve the albondigas with the sauce, garnished with the parsley and speared with a toothpick.



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