Albondigas de Cordero

(Minted Lamb Meatballs)


Serves 6 to 8 as a tapa or 4 as a main course


                1   cup                      matzah farfel or crumbled matzah

          1 1/2   pounds                lean ground lamb

                2   Tablespoons       finely chopped fresh mint

                2   large cloves        garlic, crushed with a garlic press

                                                coarse salt (kosher or sea)

                                                freshly ground black pepper

                1   large                    egg, beaten

                3   Tablespoons       olive oil

                1   medium-size      onion, chopped

                1   cup                      chopped canned tomatoes with some of their juice

             1/4   cup                      dry sherry

                1   cup                      chicken stock or broth

                2   teaspoons           finely crumbled dried mint


1.      Place the matzah farfel in a bowl, add cold water to cover, and soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess liquid.

2.      Place the matzah farfel and the lamb, fresh mint, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the egg in a large bowl. Gently knead the meatball mixture with your hands just until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined; do not overknead. Wet your hands, then break off a piece of the meatball mixture, shape it into a 1-inch ball, gently tossing it between cupped hands to give it shape. Repeat with the remaining meatball mixture, placing the meatballs on a small baking sheet.

3.      Heat the olive oil in a deep 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and brown all over, 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the skillet so that the meatballs brown evenly. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meatballs to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.

4.      If the meatballs have released too much fat, drain off all but 2 to 3 tablespoons. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat until soft and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they are thickened and reduced, about 7 minutes. Add the sherry and the chicken stock, and cook to blend the flavors, 6 to 7 minutes. Let the sauce cool a little, then puree it in a food processor.

5.      Return the sauce to the skillet, season it with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the dried mint. Return the meatballs and any accumulated juices to the skillet and turn to coat with the sauce. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has reduced a little, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to an earthenware cazuela or another rustic serving dish, let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.


Adapted from: The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen.