Meat doesn't necessarily have to turn food into a heavy meal. This Spanish-style meatball recipe is such a deeply satisfying dish, full of lovely flavours yet quite light.
There was a time when I was considering starting a food outlet serving nothing but different types of meatballs. Meatballs are a very Swedish thing but I’ve found so many different meatball recipes over the years and have cooked a lot of varieties with influences from countries all over the world.
To me the most important thing with any type of meatball is that the meat mixture needs to be quite moist before shaping into balls. Far too many recipes I’ve come across produce near rock-hard meatballs once cooked.
I like to serve these Spanish-style meatballs with oven-roasted carrots - or any other root vegetables - and steamed green beans tossed in a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some grated Parmesan cheese.
Tip! Once you have mixed together all the ingredients for the meatballs - and before you shape the mixture into meatballs - fry a teaspoon of the mixture to check if you are happy with the seasoning. This way you can add some more if need be.
For 4 people
500g, 1lb 2oz, 2¼ cups, lean beef mince
1 large red onion
4 tablespoons water
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, crushed
30g, 1oz, 1/3 cup, grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
100ml, 3½floz, ½ cup, full-flavoured red wine (always use wine that you are happy to drink as well)
400g, 14oz, 2¼ cup, tin chopped tomatoes
Parsley, to serve
1. Start by finely grating the red onion (you want a moist mush) into a bowl. Add the water, egg, crushed garlic clove, grated Parmesan, 1 teaspoon of salt and some pepper to the onion and mix it all together. Add the mince and mix thoroughly. Wet your hands and form the mixture into around 24 small balls. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and quickly fry the meatballs until they are brown all over. You will have to turn them quite carefully to not break them up. Depending on the size of your frying pan, you may have to do this in two batches.
2. Transfer the meatballs to a large saucepan. Deglaze the frying pan with a little of the red wine, making sure you stir and scrape up all the sediment, and pour this and the rest of the red wine over the meatballs. Let it bubble away over a medium heat until syrupy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, 50ml, 2floz, 0.2 cup, water, some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and cover with a lid.
3. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes then take off the lid, increase the heat and cook for a further couple of minutes to thicken the sauce a little. Check the seasoning of the sauce. Serve the Spanish-style meatballs sprinkled with the chopped parsley.
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