Tapas-Style Meatballs (Albóndigas en Salsa)

These saucy meatballs figure in a wide range of dishes that make up the constellation of little snacks served in tapas bars all over Madrid. Pick them up and pop them into your mouth with toothpicks. In the past, the discarded picks were tallied up so that the bar owner could compile the bill at the end of meal.

Tapas-Style Meatballs (Albóndigas en Salsa)
These saucy meatballs figure in a wide range of dishes that make up the constellation of little snacks served in tapas bars all over Madrid.
Yield: serves 4

For the Meatballs

  • 1 12 lb. coarsely ground beef
  • 1 12 lb. coarsely ground pork
  • 12 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 14 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Sauce

  • 1 cup Spanish olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, white part only, chopped
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 12 cups beef broth
  • 1 12 cups white wine

Instructions

  1. For the meatballs: Mix together the beef, pork, bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, garlic, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Let chill for 1 hour. Put flour into a bowl. Using wet hands, form meat mixture into 20 even-size meatballs. Roll each in flour; shake off excess; transfer to sheet pan.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown half the meatballs in the skillet, 10–12 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate. Wipe out skillet and repeat with remaining oil and meatballs, leaving oil and caramelized bits in skillet.
  3. For the sauce: Heat skillet (with reserved oil) over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onions, leeks, and bay leaf and cook until softened, 12–15 minutes. Add flour; cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and wine, raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until thickened, 12–14 minutes. Let cool; discard bay leaf. Purée sauce in blender in batches. Return sauce to skillet along with meatballs; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until thickened and meatballs are cooked, 16–18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Divide between four 6"–7" cazuelas.