Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Albondigas Con Salsa de Tomate (Meatballs in Tomato Sauce)

This is my grandmothers recipe for Meat balls in tomato sauce. It is a Cuban version of meat balls of course though every cook and culture probably has their own style of doing it. For example my mother's meatballs taste COMPLETELY different in flavor but that will be for another post.

My grandmothers recipe tastes very smokey and hot BUT it is not spicy! Cuban food can be hot but not spicy at all. It get's the smokey hot taste from black pepper and cumin.

-1 1/4 pounds ground beef
-2 eggs cracked and beaten
-1/2 cup of cracker meal or breadcrumbs, seasoned Italian breadcrumbs also work here
-1 onion minced
-1 bell pepper minced (I use 1/2 green and 1/2 yellow)
-1/2 a head garlic finely minced mashed to a paste (mortar and pestle or garlic press)
-1 cup tomato sauce (you could use canned my grandma for this dish uses already prepared "Ragu Sauce" that comes in a bottle like container sometimes "Mushroom Flavored" or "Meat Sauce" flavor)
-1/2 a bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley only the leaves finely minced (if you hate parsley like my mother use "Cilantro" but when I'm cooking this dish I think parsley goes best with it)
-2 teaspoons cumin
-2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper (I grind whole peppercorns in my mortar with a pestle)
-2-3 teaspoons salt more or less to taste

(1)Get the ground beef in a large bowl, add 1/2 of the minced onion, 1/2 of the minced garlic, 1/2 of the minced parsley, some salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin, and the cracker meal and eggs. Mix well but don't over mix just enough to incorporate everything. Form the ground beef into medium small ball shape.
(2)In a deep pan heat generous amounts of extra-virgin olive oil, sautee the minced onions and bell pepper on medium high for 6 minutes until translucent and fragrant, add the garlic and sautee 2 more minutes, add the other 1 teaspoon of cumin and pepper and sautee 1-2 minutes.
(3)Now add the tomato sauce and dilute it with some water to desired consistency (about 1 cup water depends how thick sauce is it will cook down a bit and thicken as it continues cooking so keep that in mind), stir well, bring to a boil taste for salt and adjust to taste, add the meatballs in one layer cover for 10 minutes then uncover and flip it to the other side cover and cook another 10 minutes.
(4)Uncover, to test for doneness get one meatball and cut in half if it is not pink in the middle it is done. Now garnish with parsley.
Serve over white rice. My grandmother sometimes use to cook spaghetti (according to package instructions) drain it and toss with the meatballs and tomato sauce, this would be a Cubanized "Spaghetti and Meatballs" ha ha!


Núria said...

Mmmm Nathan... me encantan las albóndigas :D y la salsa de tomate también... así que cuando quieras ya puedes invitarme ;D

I rather do them with pork meat though because they are moister and more tender than beef. And also I would have some bread crumbs (de pan de dos dias) soaking in milk, then strain and add to the meat bowl.

Anyways, yours look wonderful, chico!

Nathan said...


Jeje gracias :)

I love pork meat, it's my favorite meat!

Pilar - Lechuza said...

Nathan, estas albondigas tienen que estar deliciosas. Yo como Núria, tambbien utilizo carne de cerdo. Casi siempre una mezcla a partes iguales de cerdo/ternera. El cerdo le da la jugosidad que no tiene la ternera. Deliciosas de todas maneras!!

Anonymous said...

I see you really like to cook. That's great. Albondigas are something I relish, but seldom make unless a client requests them or I suggest. I can't remember the last time I made some (well, other than for the book), but these here look good. And yes, from your black bean post, cumin is essential in Cuban cooking. Without it, it's just NOT CUBAN!

Nathan said...

I'm always surprised at the amount of people that say, "I hate cumin" yet when they eat it in Cuban food they love it ha ha.

Nathan said...

Creo que la carne de cerdo es la mas deliciosa del mundo! Je je pa'la otra ves lo voy acer con cerdo.

Meli said...

This looks delicious and can't wait to try it! I'm american but grew up in Miami and love, love, love Cuban food!

Anonymous said...

Nathan...Thank you for this recipe!! My mom is currently in the hospital after having open heart surgery and my son who is in the Army and his family are down for the holidays and wanted this for dinner. Of course this is a meal that my mom has always cooked for him in the years past, but is unable to this year. And of course like "most" good cooks...she never had a recipe for it.

I did tweak yours a little by doing something she always did with this meal of adding at the end of the cooking... a mixture of 1 whisked egg/1 tsp white vinager. I don't know WHY she did this....i just know that's what she did.

Thank you so much for the recipe. It turned out amazing!

Dawn S