Spanish Meatballs and my last postcard from Portugal

Written by Karen Coakley

Spanish Meatballs

So that’s it….our holiday in Portugal has come to an end. We are soaking the last rays of sun by the pool and almost afraid to think of the weather that’s waiting for us at home.
The twins have had the time of their lives but isn’t that what family holidays are all about…building memories and forming bonds.
We have had many hilights on this holiday from the very reasonably priced Spanish Cava to the gorgeous wines from the Alentejo region, I would love to see more of these available in Ireland and of course the Portuguese ‘Green’ Wine.
The beaches here are amazing and the further west along the coast you go the more secluded and enchanted they become. We have eaten wonderful food in beach bars here, fresh local fish, Portuguese Steak and nothing beats the feeling that you are eating as the locals do.


We watched two old women in Lagos the other day in a restaurant as they devoured a bowl each of Caldo Verde. They were old and bent over and one walked with two canes but when she stood up to our amazement she carried her shopping bag balanced perfectly on her head. Something tells me these ladies have their weekly ritual of coming down from the mountains to do their shopping and stop off for a bowl of this traditional cabbage and potato soup along the way. It gave us a wonderful glimpse into their life and a memory of a time in Ireland 30 years ago.
Portugal is a place that can offer so much, it has the lively resorts but what we like and what we have discovered is the further west you go the more a taste of the real Algarve you will get.
And on that note I am posting a recipe for Albondigas or ‘Spanish’ meat balls. It’s what I will be cooking next week when I’m back at home in the dreary rain. I use pork and beef mince as it gives a nicer texture and I always use Hot Smoked Spanish Paprika as it gives a lovely kick and the flavour is nothing like the standard supermarket paprika. Once you try it you won’t go back. I also like the flavour of oregano in these and for me that makes the difference between these and Italian Meatballs. Also see at the end for my serving suggestion, as I said…there’s a difference.


The Meatballs

The Sauce


  1. Preheat to 200c or gas mark 6
  2. Heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add your onions and sweat until golden, add the garlic for a minute or so before increasing the heat and adding the wine which you let bubble to reduce a little. Add the tins of tomatoes and one of these empty cans filled with water, the smoked hot paprika, sugar and season very well with salt and pepper.
  3. Turn the heat down and let simmer while you make the meatballs. N.B if you have fussy eaters who don’t like lumps or onion bits simply let it cool a little when cooked and blend in a liquidiser to a smooth consistency.
  4.  Mix all the ingredient for the meatballs together in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Shape into even sized walnut sized balls.
  5.  Heat your oil in a pan to a med to high heat, add the meatballs in batches and seal on the outside. Then add to your tomato sauce and cook for about 15 to 20 mins
  6. Transfer the meatballs into individual serving bowls ( I use terracotta ones) top each one of these with lots of grated mozzarella and place in the oven until golden and bubbling.
  7. I love to serve these with patatas bravas as part of a Spanish feast or spooned over Papadrelle Pasta
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