Spanish tapas meatballs in sherry sauce

I absolutely love authentic Spanish food and a homemade tapas-inspired lunch or dinner menu is a summer favourite. I recently made these delicious little meatballs (called albondigas in Spain) for friends and they went down a treat. They are an easy make-ahead course as they are best eaten just warm – I served them on small plates with a slice of crusty bread to mop up the extra sauce alongside a bowl of freshly cooked Padron peppers. The flavour of the pork is really lifted by the lemon zest and chopped olives and the tomato sauce with fresh bay leaves and dry fino sherry is a winning combo. You can substitute dry white wine for the sherry but it’s not quite the same. Buy a small bottle of fino, cook the sauce with it then and serve chilled glasses of it as an aperitif – it’s perfect with olives, gazpacho and Serrano ham. This recipe makes about 30 baby meatballs so perfect for 4 to six people. You could even add pasta to make it into a tasty main course.



  • 25g crustless stale white bread 
  • Finely grated zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 75g Serrano ham, finely chopped
  • 350g minced pork (I also make mine with a 50/50 mix of pork and veal)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed into a paste with a little sea salt
  • 25g pitted green olives, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of hot Pimenton (Spanish paprika)
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons of light olive oil

Sherry sauce

  • 2 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 x 400g chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of hot Pimenton (Spanish paprika)
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 100ml fino sherry (you can substitute dry white wine)

To make…

First, make the meatballs. Crumble the bread into a small bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice and a couple of teaspoons of water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, add the minced pork, Serrano ham, garlic, lemon zest, chopped olives, paprika, parsley and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Squeeze out any excess water from the bread, add with the beaten egg into the meat mixture. It should be thoroughly mixed together – use your hands to get the best result. Pop into the fridge to firm up while you make the sherry sauce.

To make the sauce, add the oil to a large sauté pan, add the onion, paprika and garlic and fry gently for about 8 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, sherry, bay leaves, stock and a half teaspoon of salt. Simmer for about 45 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

While the sauce is cooking, prep the meatballs. Take the mixture out of the fridge, form the mixture into 30 tapas-sized meatballs – a generous teaspoon of the mixture is about right. Brown them in batches on both sides by adding the olive oil to your frying pan and cooking them on a medium heat. As each batch browns, set them aside on a plate. They just need to have a brown crust, they will cook through properly in the sauce.

Now, gently add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes until cooked through. Take the bay leaves out and spoon a few meatballs with some of the sauce onto little plates – you can add little toothpicks or forks to serve.

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About Janet Davies @pigeoncottage

Food lover, author, cook!
This entry was posted in Meat main courses, Recipes, Summer recipes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Spanish tapas meatballs in sherry sauce

  1. Pingback: Iberian tapas feast | Pigeon Cottage Kitchen

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