Have you guys seen the music video making fun of Instagram? It’s pretty hilarious and was totally dead-on with regards to how obsessed we are with it, i.e. taking pictures of FOOD, random doors and signs, cats, and generally any other thing we encounter in our daily lives that we believe to be so incredibly interesting but kinda not really that we just feel overwhelmingly compelled to share it to everyone, multiple times a day, every day. Did I mention cats? It got me thinking though, like geez, is this really what our lives have come to, to get so fanatic about taking pictures, tossing a filter on it and calling it our life just to say “here friends, this is x, and i ate it or hey, here’s this random y i saw today, ain’t it cool?’ Why are we so driven to share these small, often inconspicuous moments with others and find it entertaining to see others do the same? I dunno– I can confidently say though that I am pretty bad at it, oftentimes finding my finger pushing the share button quicker than I can think otherwise. I suppose I do it because I like taking pictures. I like looking at pretty things. I like to cook. I like giving people recipes to cook with. And, I love my friends and family and it’s these tiny snapshots of life that, if I can share with them, from miles and miles away, can spark a smile or conversation or give another person the confidence to cook it…well then it’s all worth it to me, despite the momentary frenzy of finding good light for the picture or cleaning up the mess left behind from cooking and plating and frantically trying to take a shot before the whole thing disintegrates (the story of my life). Blogging is glamorous, isn’t it?
So, the last time I went to California to visit family my parents e-mailed me months prior, about 2, to ask me what I wanted to eat when I got there (I kid you not, two months prior…and then you wonder where I got my craziness for food). And I, like the anal, organized, make-a-list-or-its-not-valid kinda girl that I’ve flourished into, created a document on Evernote that documented day by day, what we’d eat, when, where, how. I know that it’s just slightly disturbing. Anyway, when I sent it off to be reviewed by mama, she asked me quizzically what the albondigas were, having no recollection of them before. I suppose I misremembered (is that even a word?) that my grandma used to make these to go with her pesto and spaghetti back when I was still living at home but maybe I was totally wrong, which evidently, from my mother’s confused Facebook messages back to me, I really was. Fact of the matter was though, that I somehow started making these about a year ago, tossing in ingredients I thought she had used and a few ingredients I added on my own, and they just sort of stuck in my head as being her albondigas— which means meatballs in Spanish by the way, but I’m sure you already knew that because I know you’ve very food savvy.
Long story long, we never made these albondigas while I was out there, instead she pan-fried some breaded steak and we ate the green spaghetti like that, just as good. But here’s my mishmash recipe for them anyway, not my grandma’s, not completely mine, but one that was born through false recollections, real memories, and heat of the moment ingredient finds.
And while I cooked, this played: Try a Little Tenderness, a remake of the Otis Redding version, by Florence + The Machine– a band I’ve recently started listening to. Her voice is so lovely and kind of ghostly, in a not so scary way but one that draws you in, gives you shivers and stops you in your tracks. Beautifully haunting.
Mini albondigas, served with Peruvian-style pesto + spaghetti
Makes 1 baking sheets worth, enough for about 4-6 people
*edited 4/7/16: changed breadcrumbs to actual sandwich bread slices. not sure how that got in there since I’m pretty sure I’ve always used sandwich bread to soak up the milk. Weird.
3/4 pound ground chuck
1/4 pound ground pork
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
A few grindings of fresh black pepper
3 slices white sandwich bread, crust removed
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup very finely minced yellow onion
1 fat garlic clove, finely minced
S + P
1 teaspoon freshly crushed dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder
1 tablespoon water
Spray oil, for coating meatballs
// In a medium-sized bowl toss in the ground chuck, ground pork, egg, fresh parsley, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl, tear the sandwich bread with your fingers and pour the milk over; squish together with your fingers to help the bread absorb the milk. Let this sit for about 10 minutes.
Grab a small fry pan and set it over medium heat. Toss in the butter and once it melts throw in the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, and New Mexico chile powder. Mix around and saute the onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the water and let it bubble, continue to cook until water has evaporated. Set aside to cool for a bit.
Drain the bread from the milk, squeezing out as much liquid as you can with your hands and add this to the meat mixture. Dump in the slightly cooled onion and garlic mixture too. And now with nimble hands, mix everything together– I just love the way your hand experiences the cold and warm sensation as it hits the cold meat and warm onion mix, side-note sorry– until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Get a rimmed baking sheet and a teaspoon and start forming your mini albondigas. Use restraint when forming these– I make them this small because I think they taste better and I like to stuff the whole thing in my mouth versus having to cut it in half with a fork– but that’s my laziness talking (as usual), so stick with the teaspoon amount here, no more no less. Start lining them up prettily on your baking sheet.
When you’re done, spray with a light coating of oil and stick in the middle rack of the oven for about 8-10 minutes, depending on the strength of your machine. Then, kickstart your broiler, move the albondigas to a higher rack and broil until golden brown and slightly charred in spots (those are the best, in my opinion), about another 3-5 minutes.
These are meant to be served along with my grandma’s recipe of spaghetti verde, or more commonly known as green spaghetti, or more popularly as Peruvian-style pesto + spaghetti– a dish that frequents the tables of my client’s homes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan cheese on top before eating and serve immediately.
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