• 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 lb ground pork (or veal)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 gratings fresh nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 4 to 5 canned peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stick or broth
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting the meatballs

This Spanish recipe is a robust, saucy meatball dish served in small earthenware cazuelas.

This dish is very popular at old Madrid tapas bars and tabernas. White wine is more commonly used for the sauce, but this recipe uses red for a more robust color and flavor.

The sauce is also delicious served over rice or fried potatoes. Enjoy!


Place the bread and milk in a small bowl and let soak for 5 minutes. Drain, squeeze out the excess liquid, and finely crumble the bread.

Place the crumbled bread and the pork, beef, grated onion, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and parsley in a large bowl.

Gently knead the meatball mixture with your hands just until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the sauce, about 40 minutes.

While the meatball mixture is chilling, make the sauce as follows: Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.

Add the chopped onion and carrot and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes. Add the paprika and stir for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the brandy, increase the heat to high, and cook until the liquid is reduced slightly, about 1 minute.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the wine and chicken broth (or stock), partially cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove about 1 cup of the solids from the sauce and transfer to a blender along with about 1 cup of the liquid.

Puree the mixture until medium-fine. Stir the pureed mixture back into the sauce and add a little more chicken stock if it seems too thick. Keep the sauce warm while you finish making the meatballs.

Spread a thin layer of flour on a large plate. Wet your hands, then break off a piece of the meatball mixture and shape it into a ball (about 1 1/4 inches in diameter). Roll the meatball in the flour, then gently toss it between cupped hands to give it shape. Repeat with the remaining meatball mixture, placing the floured meatballs on a small baking sheet.

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add half of the meatballs and brown all over, about 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meatballs to a bowl. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil to the skillet and cook the remaining meatballs in the same fashion.

Add about 1/3 cup water to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute. Stir this liquid into the sauce.

Gently stir the browned meatballs and any accumulated juices into the sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook until the meatballs are completely cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving.

Serve as a tapa or as a main course over rice, or fried potatoes.

Serves 4 to 6