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Recipe from Sober Celebrations
Albondigas (Meatballs in Garlic Tomato Sauce)
These little meatballs are popular Spanish appetizers and are sometimes part of a traditional hearty soup. Usually made from a combination of meats, including pork, they can also be made of beef only, or even ground turkey You can buy a meatloaf mix that contains beef, veal, and pork, or buy each separately The combination of spices is what gives albondigas their unique taste, while the delicious garlic and tomato sauce that accompanies them is full of robust flavor. Making these ahead of time and storing them in the sauce will result in even more flavor, so plan on cooking them at least a day before the party
   Some types of canned whole Italian plum tomatoes are better than others. Look for San Marzano on the label, which refers to the region in which they are grown - even the Spanish seek them out. They have better flavor, color, and texture than others, and when used in a sauce such as this with very few other ingredients, the quality is noticeable. Use your fingers to break them apart a bit in the can before adding them to the saucepan. The white wine substitute used here is appropriate for many dishes that traditionally call for small amounts of a light, dry white wine.
Serves 12


    • 1 pound lean ground beef
    • 1/2 pound ground veal
    • 1/2 pound ground pork
    • 1 cup dry, unflavored bread crumbs
    • 1 large egg
    • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh parsley leaves
    • 1 teaspoon pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika)
    • 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • Pinch red cayenne pepper
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup white wine substitute (3 tablespoons white grape juice and 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar)
    • Two 28-ounce cans whole Italian plum tomatoes, including juice, gently crushed
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano


1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, veal, pork, bread crumbs, egg, half the garlic, parsley, pimenton, cumin, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper, and mix together until well combined. Form into approximately 36 walnut-size meatballs and place on a baking sheet.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and fry the meatballs in batches until they are evenly browned. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and set aside.

3. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the accumulated grease in the skillet, add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and fry over medium heat, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and cook a further minute. Add the wine substitute and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits in the pan as the liquid cooks. After 2 minutes, stir in the tomatoes, their juices, and the oregano, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Place the browned meatballs in the sauce and simmer covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are tender and the sauce has thickened, about 25 minutes.

4. Taste the sauce for additional salt, transfer with the meatballs to a storage container to cool, and refrigerate until ready to use. Reheat the meatballs gently in the sauce in a covered pot or skillet until heated through. Transfer all to a large, warmed platter, and serve immediately.

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