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Meatballs are Med for sharing.

Byline: MICHAEL KILKIE

For easy entertaining or family dining, you can't beat a traybake, or indeed any kind of one-pot meal.

In particular, a traybake you can pop in the centre of the table, along with a couple of sides that everyone can tuck in to and help themselves. It's a very Mediterranean way of eating and that's why I've chosen a Mediterranean style dish.

Almost every country or cuisine has their own version of the good old meatball and Spain, where I've taken my influence from, is no different.

If you're a fan of tapas or Spanish cuisine, you'll be familiar with a Spanish meatball, or Albondigas as they are commonly known.

Normally made with pork mince and cooked in a rich smoky tomato sauce, mine are like that but the main difference is I'm baking them in the oven topped with delicious spanish manchego cheese. In Italy, it would normally be mozzarella but I want to keep this dish traditional.

I'm also throwing chorizo into the mix, which really helps boost that smoky flavour, always made with plenty of delicious smoky paprika and garlic.

Herb-wise I'm using thyme.

In Italy it would be basil and in Asian versions it would be coriander but in Spain thyme is a key flavour, particularly in oven or slow-cooked dishes, like today.

To serve with today's meatballs, I would probably go for something like small cut roast potatoes, a bit like patatas bravas. You don't need the traditional bravas sauce as you already have that in the meatballs.

Rice is nice with the meatballs too, if you prefer.

My last two accompaniments would be crusty bread and garlic mayo, or even alioli depending on where you are.

Visit Michael's Restaurant: THE DAPPER SQUIRREL 14 LONDON ROAD KILMARNOCK KA3 7AF 01563 523477 thedappersquirrel.co.uk manchego cheese. In Italy, it on where you are.

My top tip Patatas bravas are the best things to serve with these. Peel and dice potatoes, boil in salted water for five minutes then drain. Toss in olive oil, place in a tray then season with salt and thyme leaves. Roast at 200C for 30 minutes, turning until golden and crisp on the outside and fluffy inside.

SMOKY SPANISH MEATBALL BAKE SERVES 6 FOR THE MEATBALLS

4 slices bread torn into small pieces

100ml milk

800g pork mince

2 cloves garlic, crushed

small bunch parsley, chopped

1 egg, beaten

Small handful fresh chopped parsley

Half a tsp hot smoked paprika

Half a tsp sweet smoked paprika

Olive oil FOR THE SAUCE

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garic, crushed

200ml red wine

250g diced chorizo

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

1tsp smoked paprika

Half a tsp caster sugar

Splash white wine vinegar

Half a tsp fresh chopped thyme leaves

Olive oil

100g manchego cheese, cut into small dice FOR THE MEATBALLS Put the bread in a large bowl, tip over the milk and toss until it has all soaked in.

Add the mince, garlic, parsley, egg, smoked paprika and season with salt. Mix together well and roll into small meatballs, about 32.

Heat olive oil in a pan and brown the meatballs all over. Take out once they're browned and place in a baking dish.

FOR THE SAUCE Add more olive oil to the pan then add the garlic, onions and thyme and sizzle for a couple of minutes, add the chorizo and cook for another 5 minutes. Tip in the wine, sugar and vinegar and boil until it is almost reduced.

Add the tomatoes and smoked paprika, season and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Pour over the meatballs in the oven dish.

Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 170c for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, spread over the manchego cheese and continue to cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove and serve.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 28, 2018
Words:639
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