The food of Spain and Portugal, 224pp.
by Elisabeth Luard
Kyle Books, Maryland, 2007
Cooking on page 132
I was delighted, but surprised, to find this book selling very cheaply at Academic Remainders in Civic, Canberra’s main shopping district. I think I paid about $15.
Elisabeth Luard is an award-winning food writer, journalist and broadcaster. I consider her to be the most knowledgeable natïve-English speaker to write about Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. Critics think so too.
I have two of her 20 books and am always on the lookout for more. They aren’t all about food and I’m tempted to track down her My life as a wife—love, liquor and what to do about the other women. It recounts her turbulent marriage to Nicholas Luard, a drunk, philanderer and founder of Private Eye magazine. Here’s a riveting excerpt.
But back to this cookbook that focuses on regional dishes in Spain and Portugal. The editor slipped a bit and the recipes on page 32 are duplicates of the ones on page 30. Oops! So I moved on to page 132.
Albóndigas en salsa (meatballs in tomato sauce)
1 lb. ground lamb, veal or beef
8 oz. ground pork
1 egg, beaten with a fork
4 heaped tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, skinned and very finely chopped
1/2 large mild onion, grated or very finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper
Flour, for dusting
2–3 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 large mild onion, cut into fine slivers (half-moons)
1 garlic clove, skinned and finely chopped
2 1/4 lbs. (2 1/2 cups) ripe tomatoes, scalded, skinned and chopped (or canned tomatoes)
1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
1–2 short cinnamon sticks
Work together thoroughly all the meatball ingredients. Have a plate of seasoned flour ready beside you. With wet hands (keep a bowl of warm water handy for rinsing your fingers) form the mixture into little bite-sized balls, rolling each one lightly in seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a frying pan, slip in the meatballs, and fry until firm, turning carefully to brown each one all over.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil and fry the red pepper, onion and garlic gently until they soften—don’t let them brown. Add the tomatoes, wine and cinnamon, let it bubble up, season with salt and a little sugar, reduce the heat and let simmer and reduce for 20 minutes or so. Add the meatballs to the sauce, let it bubble up, turn down the heat and cook gently until tender—20–25 minutes. Serve with saffron rice or crisp french fries fried in olive oil.
How it played out
I made this as written, using ground (minced) beef, canned tomatoes, sourdough breadcrumbs (buzzed up in my food processor) and dry sherry.
Meatballs always sound like so much work to me, but this recipe is really easy and tasty. Bringing it together wasn’t as fiddly and didn’t take as long as I expected, so I’m sure I’ll make it again.
It’s also a great recipe to get the kids busy in the kitchen. They love getting their hands, and everything else, messy. So make it and get them involved.