Article contributed by Editor in Chief J. Townsend.
In 2013 we were fortunate enough to do some traveling in Europe and in North Africa. I was able to identify one of my favorite types of European cuisine from my travels that year. The tapas dishes of Spain are on the top of my favorites list for their freshness of ingredients, portion size, and flavor combinations.
One of the other amazing concepts with tapas is how they are intended to be consumed. You travel from tapas bar to tapas bar and try different dishes, which are often the size of a small plate, until you get tired or full and want to go home. As it was explained to me, “You try one dish here, if you like it you stay and have another. If you don’t like it then you go somewhere else.” The tapas truly encompasses the social interactions of Spanish culture.
On a brisk night, while in Seville, Spain, my wife and I wandered down winding streets and hidden alleys from tapas bar to tapas bar sampling these meatballs which are known in all Spanish speaking cultures as Albondigas. The simplicity and flavor intrigued me and I was inspired to recreate these with wild venison when I returned to the US. This dish was served up at my house for our Christmas Day Dinner and was an instant hit.
- 3 Slices of Bread
- 1 cup Milk
- ½ cup Dry White Wine
- 1 lbs Ground Venison
- 5 cloves Garlic, finely minced
- 2 Eggs
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Large Onion, finely diced
- 3 tablespoon finely minced Fresh Parsley
- 1 cup and 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 cup Flour (to coat the meatballs )
- 2 Carrots, diced
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 tablespoon of Brandy
- 4 tablespoons Tomato Sauce
- 1-½ cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
- Soak to bread in the white wine and milk
- Mix the ground venison, half of the minced garlic, 2 eggs, salt, black pepper, ½ of diced onion, and parsley with the soaked bread in a large mixing bowl.
- Heat the 1 cup of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat
- Form the ground meat into meatballs that are approximately quarter sized
- Coat the meat balls in the flour and then fry in the olive oil to a golden brown color and set aside. (You do not have to cook the meatballs all the way through)
- In a large sauce pot, saute the remaining onion, carrots, the remaining garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil until the onion appears clear.
- Add the bay leaves and tomato sauce to the onion mixture and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently
- Add the meatballs and the brandy to the sauce
- Increase the heat to cook off the alcohol from the brandy and add the chicken stock
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer until the sauce has reduced by half and the meatballs are tender.
- Remove from heat and serve.