Spanish -style cocktail meatballs in tomato -saffron sauce

This was a true find in cooks illustrated. Instead of the red meat traditionally used in these tapas, little appetizers , there are tapas bars found all over Spain , this recipe uses ground chicken . I use ground dark meat chicken , the end result is more juicy and flavorful than with all white meat.

serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer


2 slices high quality white sandwich bread , torn into small pieces

1/3 cup whole milk

1 lb ground chicken

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tbs minced fresh parsley leaves ( I use flat leaf , it has most flavor)

1 large egg yolk

1 medium garlic clove ,minced

3/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

2-3 tbs olive oil


1 small onion minced

1 small tomato, cored , seeded and chopped medium

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 bay leaves

1 tbs minced fresh parsley

1 tbs finely chopped blanched almonds

2 medium garlic cloves ,minced

1/4 tsp saffron threads

1/4 tsp paprika

salt and ground pepper , to taste


In a large bowl , mash the bread and milk together to form a smooth paste. Add the ground chicken , parmesan , parsley ,egg yolk, garlic ,salt and pepper to the mashed bread and mix until uniform. Shape the mixture into 1 inch round meatballs (1 tsp per balls , giving you 35 to 40 balls)

Heat 2 tbs of the oil in a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add half the meatballs and brown on all sides 5 to 7 minutes ,reducing heat if oil begins to smoke. Transfer balls to a paper towels. Discard all but 1 tbs of oil and repeat with the remaining balls. Add additional oil if needed.


Add onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits, until softened and lightly browned , 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the broth , wine and bay leaves, then carefully return the meatballs to the skillet. Simmer just until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.

While the meatballs cook , mash together the parsley , garlic , saffron , paprika , 1/8 tsp salt and black pepper. When the meatballs are cooked through stir in the parsley mixture , season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve.


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