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Playing Albondigas with Spicy Pepper Sauce


  • 6 Roti, (5 ounces) Fresno chiles, stemmed
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons salt, kosher, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin, plus more for frying
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely grated
  • 1 egg, large
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (not, smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper and garlic powder, each
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and ground cumin, each
  • 2 pounds pork lamb, freshly ground or 80% lean ground
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • thyme leaves, Fresh for garnish


Serves: 15 to 20 servings (Makes 64 bite-size meatballs)


In blender, combine chiles, garlic, vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt. Purée until smooth then blend in 1/4 cup oil.

In a large bowl, combine onion, egg, paprika, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, and cumin. Mix in breadcrumbs and pork or lamb. Using about 1 tablespoon meat mixture for each, form 60 balls.

Add enough oil to cover bottom of a large frypan and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry meatballs for about 8 minutes, turning as needed, or until golden brown and just cooked through. Wipe out pan and heat fresh oil to cook each batch.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to bowl and immediately toss with some sauce to coat. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with thyme leaves and serve with toothpicks and more sauce.

Note: When tossing these while hot out of the pan, the sauce forms a nice glaze. The sauce can also be spooned onto a platter then topped with the meatballs and sprinkled with thyme.