Home Food DigiBites: Chef Charlie Conquers “The Boot,” Turns His Attention To Spain

DigiBites: Chef Charlie Conquers “The Boot,” Turns His Attention To Spain

The Epicurean Exchange

Ed. Note: Well, folks, it looks like Orinda’s Chef Charlie Vollmar has sold his last seat aboard his Epicurean Exchange’s culinary tour of Tuscany, Sicily and Puglia so, while those lucky folks prepare for their trip, the chef has his map out and is planning his next foray to Spain:

Last night I taught a Best Spanish Tapas recipes class to rave reviews.

Chef Charlie

The Epicurean Exchange visits Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain annually, and we always come home with great foodie repertoire to share in our classes.  We paired the tapas with Spanish varietal wines for the perfect combination.  If any of our readers are interested in joining us for a hands-on cooking experience, check out our class schedule!

Epicurean Exchange

The recipe I am featuring for NEWS24/680 readers today – Albondigas (Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce) – can be served as an appetizer or main dish served over pasta or rice.  I have also included some photos of our last tour to Barcelona and some of the dishes we enjoyed.  If you are interested in traveling with us to Catalonia in September 2019, click here for the link to our website and the full itinerary.

Albondigas (Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

For the Meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 pound spicy bulk pork sausage

1 egg beaten

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup minced cilantro

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

For the Sauce: 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

3 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon hot smoked paprika

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, in juice

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

6 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons cornstarch (with 2 tablespoons water to form a slurry)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped cilantro for garnish

•     To make the meatballs: combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Form 24 meatballs in the palms of your hands. Make sure they are well-rolled or they will fall apart in the broth when cooking.

•     In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, cumin, oregano, paprika and pepper flakes and sauté until the vegetables are soft.  Add the tomatoes and their juices, cilantro and chicken stock. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

•     Bring to a boil again, and add the meatballs, and simmer for 15 minutes until the meatballs are cooked and the liquid is slightly reduced.  Strain the liquid reserving the meatballs – set aide, but keep warm.  Bring liquid to a boil and reduce by 1/4.  Combine the cornstarch and water and whisk into the broth.  Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

•     To serve:  place the meatballs in a platter or individual plates. Top with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.  Serve immediately.

Serves 6 – 8

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  1. Just in the nick of time – a new Chef Charlie recipe. Made a rather nice Potato Soup last night, running a portion of it through the VitaMix and we have to say it was really good! Loaded it up with stuff and improvised. Couldn’t have done it without The Chef’s encouragement! But we have to talk about that Point Reyes bleu cheese, Chef, have you priced it lately? Yikes! (For another recipe).

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