Albóndigas a la Andaluza
Region: Spain, Andalusia
Category: Antipasto, Meze, Tapas, and Hors d'Oeuvres
Difficulty: Labor Intensive
Albóndigas, the Spanish word for "meatball," derives from the Arabic al-bunduq, "hazelnut," meant to evoke their form and size. The making of albóndigas date at least back to Islamic Spain, for there are several recipes in the anonymous thirteenth-century Hispano-Muslim cookery book Kitāb al-tabīkh fī Maghrib wa'al-Āndalus. In fact, the method of frying and then poaching in this recipe, or poaching and then roasting, as found in other recipes in this book, I believe is an Arab culinary influence because we find it employed not only in medieval Arabic texts but also in today's kitchen.
The delicious combination of ground beef, chicken, and ham with its uncanny resemblance to veal, is a recipe from the Sierra Parapanda region in Granada and is spiced with saffron and pimiento and covered with a rich broth, and goes very well with French fries.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 2:15 hours
1. Bone the chicken breasts and set the bones aside. Discard any fat or skin. In a food processor, chop the chicken breasts with several short pulses. Remove to a medium-size bowl. There should be about 1/2 pound of breast meat.
2. Cut the ham slice in half. One half should have most of the fat and the other half should have the bone. Grind the half without the bone in a food processor. Remove to the bowl with the chicken. There should be about 1/2 pound of ham meat.
3. Place the chicken carcass and ham bone in a medium-size casserole or saucepan with the water and olive oil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to extract the flavor.
4. Combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, roasted peppers, saffron, beaten eggs, salt, and lemon juice with the chicken and ham. Knead the mixture well and form into meatballs with your hands, kept wet with cold water so the mixture doesn't stick. Make 64 meatballs, or, if you have the patience, as many hazelnut-size ones as you can.
5. Preheat the frying oil in a deep-fryer or an 8-inch saucepan fitted with a basket insert to 360 degrees F. Dredge the meatballs in the flour, patting off any excess, and deep-fry in the hot oil until golden, about 3 minutes (much less if hazelnut-size). Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and keep warm.
6. Remove and discard the chicken and ham bones from the broth, strain, and return the broth to the casserole or saucepan. Place the meatballs in the broth and poach over low heat until cooked through, about 45 minutes.
7. Remove the meatballs from the casserole and transfer to a serving platter. Whisk the egg yolk into the broth and heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then pour over the meatballs and serve. Let the frying oil cool completely, strain, and save for a future use.