Saturday, 17 January 2009

Spanish meatballs, olives and a piquant sauce


Here is another savoury instalment - Spanish meatballs, a recipe I came across in a tapas cookbook I received last Christmas. They look very appetising in the photo and I put them down as part of a menu for a wedding I am planning for somebody else. I made them a few nights ago with a few additions and changes to the original recipe and they were very well-received at the table.

The meatballs simply comprised of the following mixed together then shaped into balls the size of walnuts or smaller:

  • 400g regular mince beef and not the premium lean stuff. You can substitute this with pork and veal mince. Or try a combination of different mince,
  • a diced onion cooked on low heat for 5-10 minutes until soft and slightly caramelised,
  • 2-3 finely chopped anchovy fillets. Optional but adds a nice savoury flavour to the meat,
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic,
  • some chopped parsley,
  • salt,
  • cracked black pepper,
  • piment d'espelette (offers heat without the fire) or hot paprika
  • ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs. I used puffed quinoa in my version which makes it gluten-free,
  • a large egg

Tip: Shaping meatballs can be a laborious task and is better enjoyed when there are extra hands to help.

Instead of frying the meatballs in a pan, I arranged them in an ovenproof dish and cooked them in a very hot oven (210C) for 10 minutes. In the meantime, I prepared the piquant sauce which was basically the following ingredients cooked in a pot for 10 minutes then roughly blitzed with a hand-held blender:
  • 2 roasted red/yellow capsicums
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped and sauteed until no longer crunchy
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoon store-bought harissa depending on your tolerance for spice
  • 3 generous tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smokey-sweet paprika
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • splash of white wine vinegar (quite necessary, do not omit)
  • sugar to taste

Pour the sauce while its hot over the meatballs when they come out of the oven (Caution: A bit of sizzling action may occur), scatter a handful of your favourite olives, curshed, atop and return to the oven to cook for a further 10 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, stir to coat the meatballs with sauce before serving.

As an accompaniment, I sauteed some sliced zucchini in a very hot pan with chopped garlic, parsley, lemon zest, a generous amount of seasoning, then finished with a slug of good extra virgin olive oil.

This is a very satisfying meatball dish served as a meal with some steamed rice or as a tapas . I urge you to attempt this and any leftovers can be enjoyed cold for lunch the next day.

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