Cooking Spain Region by Region: Aragón: Aragon-style Meatballs( Albóndigas al queso Aragon)

We´re already two weeks into January and probably most of us have already broken our New Year´s resolutions and let´s face it, it´s probably not going to get any easier. Not with these meatballs hanging around anyway so why don´t you give them a try...you know you want to.....!

I´ve decided to cook an extra main dish recipe from each region so instead of only 2 main dishes, there will be three main dishes and two dessert recipes as there is so much variety of regional dishes. I´m sure I´ve already told you that lamb is one of my favourite meats so these meatballs were screaming out to be made. For some reason, lamb mince is hard to find in Spain...it isn´t sold in supermarkets in those plastic trays....and even in the butcher´s, you don´t see ready-minced lamb...you have to ask the butcher to mince some lamb for you. I chose to get very young lamb(cordero lechal) as it was smaller, otherwise I´d have had to ask him to mince a whole leg and it would have been pretty expensive. It´s also impossible to find Aragon cheese where I live and I have no idea what it´s supposed to taste like so I substituted it for Manchego cheese (semicured). The recipe is adapted from the book Cocina Aragonesa and is supposed to be for 4..I made slightly less and still had quite a lot of leftovers so I think you could halve the recipe and still have enough to feed 2-3 people!

Ingredients(for 3-4 people)
550g lamb mince
85g Aragon cheese(or you can substitute this for another Spanish cheese such as Manchego)
1/2 large onion
1 clove of garlic
1 egg
2 slices of bread
2 tbsp plain flour
1 small glass of milk
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dried mint (you could cut down on this amount if you prefer a subtler taste)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

1.Soak the bread in the milk and then drain excess milk, break up the bread and mix with the meat.
2, Peel and finely chop the onion (I think next time I will try grating them so they are even smaller) and add to the mince along with the egg, the dried herbs and the salt and pepper and mix till combined.
3. Peel the garlic clove and place in a mortar with a pinch of salt and then grind with the pestle and then add to the meat mixture.
3, Cut the cheese into cubes and form walnut-sized balls with the meat mixture,enclosing the cheese cubes.
4. Heat the olive oil and coat the meatballs in flour and then fry the meatballs in the oil until golden brown and cooked through.
5.Drain on kitchen paper and serve while still hot.

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