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Meatballs in Almond Sauce (Albóndigas en Salsa de Almendra)

Meatballs in Almond Sauce (Albóndigas en Salsa de Almendra)

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.
The proportion of bread to meat varies in albóndigas depending upon the extravagance of the cook. These meatballs can be fried and served on toothpicks; cooked in a cazuela; fried and tossed in a sauce made of pan juices enriched with sherry and meat stock; or prepared as they are here, fried in olive oil, then briefly simmered in a wine sauce thickened by a signature Catalan almond picada.


For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 2 slices bread, about 2 oz. total, soaked in water to
      cover and squeezed dry
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 Tbs. finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg or cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

For the picada:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbs. ground blanched almonds
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • A few saffron threads, crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • Olive oil for deep-frying or sautéing
  • All-purpose flour for dusting

For the sauce:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup meat or chicken broth


To make the meatballs, in a bowl, combine the beef, pork, soaked bread, onion, garlic, parsley, egg, paprika, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Knead with your hands until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, as the mixture is easier to work with when cold.

To make the picada, in a mini food processor or mortar, combine the garlic, almonds, parsley, paprika and saffron, and process or grind to a paste. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a deep-fry pan over medium-high heat, pour in olive oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. While the oil is heating, form the meat mixture into 1-inch balls and dust them with flour, coating evenly.

Working in batches, slip the balls into the hot oil and fry until golden, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. (Alternately, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm a little olive oil and sauté the meatballs until well browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes.)

To make the sauce, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wine, broth and meatballs and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the picada and cook for a few minutes more to blend the flavors. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Spain & Portugal, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 2000).