Albóndigas de Sepia

Cuttlefish Balls with Broad Beans

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • 24

    Tapas

Appears in

MoVida Rustica

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2009

  • About

THE SPANIARDS LOVE THEIR MEATBALLS OR ALBÓNDIGAS. THEY ARE A REGULAR HOME MEAL, BUT ALSO APPEAR ON THE MENUS OF THE MOST RUSTIC OF BARS AND WELL-REGARDED RESTAURANTS ALIKE. A MERE MOUTHFUL, THEY ARE ALWAYS MOIST, JUICY AND FLAVOURSOME. LUNCHING ONE DAY AT ONE OF MADRID’S WELL-KNOWN MODERN RESTAURANTS, ANDRÉS MADRIGAL’S ALBOROQUE, I WAS SERVED THE MOST STUNNING DISH. HE HAD BROUGHT TOGETHER THE CLASSIC COMBINATION OF CUTTLEFISH AND BROAD BEANS, WHICH ARE TRADITIONALLY BRAISED, AND HE USED THEM TO MAKE ALBÓNDIGAS WITH SMALL PIECES OF CUTTLEFISH EMBEDDED IN A LIGHT FLAVOURSOME MOUSSE THAT WAS SET BY POACHING.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) cuttlefish hoods, cleaned
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
  • 2 egg whites
  • a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) pouring (whipping) cream
  • a pinch of freshly ground white pepper
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) white wine
  • 250 g (9 oz/1⅓ cups) shelled broad (fava) beans
  • crusty bread, to serve

Method

Finely chop one-third of the cuttlefish hoods and half the garlic, then place in a bowl with the parsley, mint and a pinch of salt. Mix well.

Cut the remaining cuttlefish into 2.5 cm (1 inch) squares, then place in a meat mincer or food processor and process until a coarse purée forms. Place in a bowl sitting over a larger bowl filled with ice. Add the egg whites, nutmeg, lemon zest, cream and white pepper and combine very well. Add the finely chopped cuttlefish mixture, combine well, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing the rest of the dish.

Thinly slice the remaining garlic, then heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté for 2–3 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to soften. Add the saffron and stir for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to low. Add the sliced garlic and bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes, then add the wine. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 600 ml (21 fl oz) water, increase the heat to high and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat again and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using damp hands, shape tablespoons of the cuttlefish mixture into balls, placing them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Once you have finished rolling them, carefully place the balls in the sauce mixture and simmer over very low heat for 45 minutes, turning occasionally.

Add the broad beans to the sauce mixture and simmer for another 5 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve hot, with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.