Albondigas Guisadas – Meatball Casserole

These Spanish style meatballs take me back to my early childhood in my granny’s kitchen. My mum now makes them for my daughter and they are genuine comfort food, made with love.

For the meatballs:

500g minced beef

2 slices of bread

2 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp chopped parsley

50g grated cheddar cheese

1 tsp grated nutmeg

1 egg

plain flour

pepper and salt to taste

milk

oil

For the sauce:

1 small onion, chopped finely

1 small green pepper, chopped finely

1/2 tsp saffron or food colourant

2 tablespoons tomato puree/ concentrate

1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 Oxo cube (beef)

3 small carrots peeled and finely sliced

5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

50g peas

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the minced beef in a bowl.  Add the grated cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt, pepper and beaten egg.

2. In a separate bowl place the 2 slices of bread and cover with milk. Remove the bread and squeeze out all the liquid. Place in the first bowl with the other ingredients. Knead well.

3. Take small amounts of the mixture and form into small balls in the palms your hands.

4. Roll them in the flour. Heat the oil in a frying pan and shallow fry until browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set to one side.

5.  In a deep pan fry the chopped onion and the green pepper until golden and softened. Add the tomato puree and fry for another minute.

6. Dissolve the oxo cube in a mug of boiling water and add to the pan.

7.  Add the saffron, bay leaves, chopped tomatoes, carrots, peas, potatoes and garlic. Bring to the boil.

8. Turn the heat down and add the meatballs. Allow to simmer for a further 25 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are tender.

Children absolutely love it if served with a side dish of grated cheese for them to scatter over the steaming meatballs. Buen provecho.

Special Chicken Soup

1 medium chicken, giblets removed

3 carrots

2 or 3 stalks of celery

1 turnip

1 slice of pumpkin

1 medium sized potato

1 tomato, deseeded and peeled

2 salted bones from the butcher’s ( 1 marrow bone, 1 ribs)

1 bouquet garni

1 chicken cube

salt and pepper to taste

This soup is served at my mum’s house every Christmas Day before the turkey. It is the one dish that every one looks forward to regardless of age, mood or fussiness.

1. Place the chicken in a very large pot.

2. Peel and chop up the vegetables into thick chunks then add to the pot.

3. Cover all the ingredients with hot water.

4. Rinse the two bones until all the salt has been thoroughly removed and put them in the pot.

5. Dissolve the chicken cube in boiling water and place them in too, together with the bouquet garni.

6. Bring to a good simmer, cover and allow to cook for an hour.

7. Remove from the heat and carefully take out the chicken. I always place it on a chopping board where I can carve it more easily.

8. Remove and discard the two bones and the bouquet garni.

9. I then blend the vegetables with some of the liquid in the pot to the desired consistency. Some people prefer thinner soups and use more liquid. I prefer slightly thicker soup, especially in winter. So I tend to have more liquid/ broth left over in the pot.

10. The remaining broth I pass through a sieve and pour into small foil containers. I allow them to cool completely, label them and freeze them. Any future recipes that call for chicken stock see me defrosting my own homemade and delicious creation.

11. The chicken can be served as part of the main course or saved for another meal.

12. Serve the chicken soup piping hot. I love it with crusty bread and butter. On special occasions I chop up, very finely, two hard-boiled eggs and approximately 150g of spanish ham (jamon serrano) and place them in two bowls on the table. Guests can help themselves to a sprinkling of these in their soup. Heavenly!