If ever I had to choose from all the delicious comfort foods in my repertoire, this would probably be it. It was one of my favourites as a child and I would get really excited when I would see my grandmother preparing them. When my grandparents retired, they would spend winters in Spain and my grandmother would always prepare me a large batch of these in the freezer. They would, sadly, never last that long… I just couldn’t resist! When she passed away, I had one regret, that I still hold to this day, that I didn’t put down in writing all of the family recipes. Most of them I manage by experimenting, memory or with the help of my mom and aunt that have their versions of the recipes as well, but one thing I found out after discussing this specific recipe with my mother, is that we have different versions of the recipe. Clearly, as with all good cooks that experiment and are always trying different things or ‘perfecting’ their recipes, the dish evolves as does the individual that is cooking it. So my recipe is completely different to the one my mother has and neither of us has ever even seen let alone eaten the others version! Funny that, no?
So getting back to february being the month for comfort food, here is my version of spanish meatballs! My version uses minced mushrooms instead of the classic breadcrumbs and egg for the meatballs. I find it lightens it up, adds veggies and depth to the meatballs. You can, of course, revert to the classic. I also use coconut cream instead of milk, but you’re welcome to do the milk version! Boy am I a happy camper to have these ready to eat!!!
225 gr. mix of ground beef, pork & veal
1/4 cup finely minced mushrooms
1 Tb pine nuts
1 large onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large potato
2 medium carrots, sliced in 1/4 rounds
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 almonds roughly chopped (or 2 Tb almond butter)
1 Tb olive oil
1/4 tp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in cast iron pan, add 1/2 of the onions and stir until translucent. Add 1/2 of the garlic and stir for a minute or so then add almost and continue until fragrant (2-3 min.). Add paprika and combine well then add carrots. Stir for another minute then add just enough water to cover. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are tender. Meanwhile combine ground meats with remaining garlic & onion, pine nuts and dash of paprika, season with salt and pepper. Roll into golf sized balls, you should have 8 meatballs. Set aside. When carrot mixture is ready, transfer to a blender with coconut milk and blend on high until smooth. Return sauce to pan and add meatballs. Make sure sauce is almost covering the meatballs. If pan is too large, transfer to a smaller pan, cook on medium-low heat to simmer, occasionally stirring. Peel and cut potatoes and place in small pan, cover with water and season with salt. Cook covered for 5 minutes once water comes to a rolling boil. Remove from water and add to meatballs and sauce. Cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring occasionally making sure elements are covered in sauce and correcting seasoning of necessary. Serves 2, can be frozen without the potatoes. If you only want one portion and freeze the other, use a small potato. You can freeze the remaining meatballs on their own with enough sauce to cover. Enjoy!