Meatballs are appreciated around the world, perhaps because they’re so comforting. Our recipe stars romesco sauce, a punchier Spanish version of a tomato sauce that’s full of garlic, roasted peppers and ground nuts. These are delicious served cold, but if you do want to serve them hot, be sure to warm the sauce in a double boiler, or it may scorch. The meatballs and sauce store well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Meatballs in Romesco Sauce
For the romesco sauce:
4 slices coarse country bread, crusts removed and torn into chunks
6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml.) red wine vinegar
2/3 cup (3 oz./90 g.) slivered almonds
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz./105 g.) canned diced tomatoes with juice
2 canned roasted piquillo peppers, drained
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil
For the meatballs:
6 slices sandwich-style white bread, crusts removed
3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) whole milk
1/2 lb. (250 g.) ground pork
1/4 lb. (125 g.) ground beef chuck (20 percent fat)
1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g.) minced fresh flat-leaf parsley and/or dill
1 Tbs. dried oregano
1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g.) grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
To make the romesco sauce, place the bread chunks in a bowl, add the vinegar, toss to coat, and let soften for about 10 minutes. In a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the almonds, stirring, until just golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely.
Drop the garlic cloves into a food processor with the motor running, and process until the pieces stop moving. Add the almonds and pulse until grainy. Add the bread and vinegar mixture, tomatoes, peppers, paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt and process until smooth. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream and process just until emulsified or thoroughly mixed. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To make the meatballs, in a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk for 10 minutes, turning to moisten it evenly. Squeeze most of the milk from the bread and tear it into small pieces. In a large bowl, combine the bread, pork, beef, onion, parsley, oregano, Parmesan, egg 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a good grinding of pepper. Blend with a fork, breaking up the ground meat, and then, with clean hands, mix thoroughly. Chill for 1 hour.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Use an ice cream scoop to form about 18 meatballs the size of golf balls, placing them on the prepared sheet. Chill again for 1 hour.
Place the romesco sauce in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water and cover. Preheat the broiler and place a rack about 3 inches (7.5 cm.) from the heat source. Slide the baking sheet in the broiler and brown the meatballs, turning them once or twice with tongs, until golden brown and firm, 8-15 minutes. To test the meatballs, cut into one to make sure it is no longer pink at the center. Transfer the meatballs to the warm sauce. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, turning the meatballs occasionally and spooning the sauce over the top. Serve at once. Serves 4-6.