What are albondigas?
Albondigas (Spanish spelling albóndigas, pronounced: “al-BON-die-gas”) are Spanish meatballs. In their simplest form, they are made from minced beef, pork or veal (combinations are also allowed), mixed with onion, garlic, bread, egg and parsley. The word ‘albondigas’ is derived from the Arabic ‘al bunduq’ which means hazelnut and refers to their shape.
Albondigas are loved all over the world and are often served with a tomato sauce. In Spanish restaurants in other European countries, the balls are usually on the menu as tapas. In Spain, you can also order them as a ‘racion’ (larger portion). Albondigas are also popular with home cooks – everyone loves albondigas!
Did you know?
In Andalusia, people sometimes serve the balls in a bread sauce with roasted almonds and saffron. The dish is then called ‘albondigas con salsa de almendras y azafran’.
How to make albondigas
Minced meat, chopped onion, chopped garlic, chopped parsley, bread crumb and egg are mixed by hand. Although unusual to find in Spain, chopped chilli pepper is sometimes added to the mince. The mixture then rests in the refrigerator for a while until it is rolled into small balls with wet hands, which are dusted with flour and baked in (preferably Spanish) olive oil until brown and cooked through.
Onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes and wine or sherry are added to make a quick tomato sauce. Preferably in the pan in which the meatballs are still stuck; the bits can be stirred and processed in the sauce. Stock and bay leaves are possible additional ingredients. Lovers of spice can also add a dash of chilli pepper to the sauce, which can then be smoothly pureed with a hand blender. Before serving, the meatballs are allowed to warm up in the sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.
How to eat
Eat them in true tapas style by using a cocktail stick to transport them from the dish to your mouth.
Fresh bread to mop up the sauce is a must.
Almost every country in the world has a meatball recipe: think kofte in Turkey, keftedes in Greece and kottbullar in Sweden. Meatballs are also often put in soup, from Vietnam (pho and hu tieu) to Mexico (albondigas).