(Albondigas en Salsa con Picada de Almendras)
The kitchen was a wreck afterwards, but it was fun. I felt like a mad scientist. Envision bubbling pots everywhere and many experiments going on simultaneously.
I made Spanish meatballs with the almond sauce, a rice/chickpea dish in an earthenware pot, and a winter vegetable medley. And a loaf of rustic no-knead bread.
The meatballs are really good. I can see why they are so popular.
I used Claudia Roden's cookbook, The Food of Spain. The information she conveys is excellent, but I am not sure that her recipe writing style or the layout of the book would be ranked as excellent.
There is an art to writing a good recipe --- and especially the layout of a book. It drives me crazy when the pages don't flow well when you are cooking and you have to keep flipping the pages. Reminds me of how hard it is to flip pages while playing a piano piece. But I digress.
Back to the meatballs, and how unusual the almond sauce is but how good it is!
Here's what I wish I had known ahead of time: the picada for the almond sauce can be made ahead of time. So I separated it out as a separate step. And put it first. And then elaborated on the steps, so that making them will be easier.
Albondigas en Salsa con Picada de Almendras
(adapted from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden)
Serves 4 to 6
For the meatballs:
1 large egg
1 pound ground pork/veal mix
4 slices firm white sandwich bread (4 ounces), crusts removed, soaked in water, and squeezed dry
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste
1 T. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
flour for dredging (optional)
Olive or sunflower oil for frying
For the almond sauce:
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup fruity dry white wine
A good pinch of saffron threads
grated zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
2 t. sugar
For the picada:
1 thin slice firm white sandwich bread, crust removed
1/4 cup blanched whole almonds (or slivered)
3 to 4 garlic cloves
3 T. olive oil
Fry the meatballs: In a skillet, add plenty of oil (she says 1/2 inch but I used less) and heat until a small piece of bread sizzles. (I used leftover crust to test how how the oil is.) Add the meatballs, in batches, and fry briefly, turning to brown them all over, then lift them out and drain. I like to use a non-stick wire rack with paper towels underneath. They do not need to be cooked through as they will cook further in the sauce.