Albondigas

Albondigas

Serves 8 tapas-style, 4 as a first course

Meatballs

1 pound lean ground beef

2 ounces thinly-sliced Serrano ham or Prosciutto

1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

2 garlic cloves, put through a garlic press

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon salt (the ham is already salty)

1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper

A large pinch of ground nutmeg

Break the ground beef up and put it into a large bowl.  Finely chop the ham, or coarsely chop it and put it in a mini-food processor with half of the bread crumbs and process until it’s ground up.  Sprinkle the ham and the rest (or all) of the breadcrumbs and the parsley on top.  Beat the egg in small bowl with the garlic, salt, and nutmeg.  Pour the egg mixture over everything in the bowl.  Using a large fork or your hands, gently mix everything together, taking care not to compact the mixture.  Using a 1-tablespoon ice cream scoop, scoop out the meatballs and put them on a dinner plate.  When you’ve formed them all, put the plate of meatballs in the fridge while you start the sauce (they’ll firm up a bit and won’t fall apart when they cook).

Sauce

1 – 28 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (I like Muir Glen brand), drained and juice reserved

2 ounces thinly-sliced Serrano ham or Prosciutto, chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, chopped fine

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup beef stock

Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil and ham together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, until the ham gets a little golden.  Add the garlic, paprika, some pepper, and the cinnamon and cook for another minute.  Add the drained tomatoes and the beef stock.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, then taste fr salt and pepper and set aside.

Finishing

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick frying pan that also has a lid.  Add the meatballs and let them fry for about 4 minutes.  Then turn them over and let them cook for a minute.  Gently pour the sauce over the meatballs.  It should come up about 3/4 of the way on the meatballs — if not, add some of the juice that you drained from the tomatoes.  Bring everything to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove the lid and raise the heat a bit for a minute to evaporate some of the liquid.  (The sauce should be thick.)  Serve immediately, or let them cool to room temperature.

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