White bean and albondigas casserole

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Meat mains

White bean and albondigas casserole

Main Serves 8 1h 40 min
Meatballs, or albondigas as they're called, are massive in Catalunya, both as tapas and main courses. They use them in everything from bean stews to canapés. Minced pork and beef are pretty much interchangeable here.


for the tomato sauce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
  • sprig fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes

for the casserole

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch dried chilli flakes
  • 175ml red wine
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 500g beef mince
  • 100g green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium cooking chorizos, chopped
  • 400g canned white beans (such as butter or haricot), drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 1h 30 min

For the tomato sauce

  • Step 1

    , begin by heating half the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallots, thyme leaves and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Step 2

    Add the remaining oil and the chopped tomatoes, stir well to combine. Lid, and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Cook gently for at least an hour, or until the sauce has thickened.

For the casserole

  • Step 1

    , heat one tablespoon of the oil in a casserole over a medium heat. Add the carrots, pepper, garlic, onion, half the fennel, half the cumin and dried chilli and fry, stirring regularly, for 6-8 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. Add the red wine and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Step 2

    Add the tomato sauce and the smoked paprika and return the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has begun to thicken.
  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the beef mince, the cumin and half the toasted crushed fennel seeds. Season well. The more you mix, the better the meatballs will stick together; they need to be quite firm. Divide and form into about 25 meatballs.
  • Step 4

    Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a separate frying pan over a medium heat. Add the meatballs, in batches, and fry for 2-3 minutes, turning regularly, until browned all over.
  • Step 5

    Add the browned meatballs, chopped olives and chopped chorizo to the tomato stew mixture. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the white beans, heat through and cook for another 20 minutes.

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