We all are familiar with meatballs, especially when paired with spaghetti.  In Nuyorican cuisine we also have our version of meatballs, or Albondigas Guisadas en Salsa i.e. Meatballs Cooked in Sauce. Most of the time we serve this dish with rice or potatoes. In some recipes, a lot of what we call criollo items are added such as pimentos (sweet bell peppers), Spanish olives, chili peppers, cilantro, etc. In the version given below, we keep it simple: stewed in tomato sauce.

This recipe calls for beef. You can substitute ground pork or lamb. If you’re health conscious, you can use ground turkey or chicken. Whatever  meat you use, it’s a very delicious dish.

Note that in this recipe we include sofrito, that aromatic mix of herbs and spices common to Puerto Rican cooking. In this blog, back in 11/08/10, I posted a sofrito recipe. You can also access a sofrito video I did on 07/10/14. If that’s too much of a bother, you can just sauté 1 teaspoon of turmeric in 2 teaspoons olive oil and add to the recipe. Or simply substitute a packet of Goya Sazόn or Sa-zόn Accent, an ingredient you can find these days in most supermarkets.

(Meatballs Cooked in sauce)


1½ pounds lean ground beef
8 whole black peppercorns
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 cup bread crumbs or cracker crumbs
1 egg lightly beaten
½ cup flour
Vegetable oil for frying (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons sofrito (see above)
1 cup tomato sauce


  1. Place meat in a bowl.
  2. In a mortar, crush peppercorns, garlic, oregano and salt. Blend in olive oil and vinegar.
  3. Add spices to the meat, along with bread crumbs and beaten egg. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Form meatballs into balls. (Note: we like large meatballs. I mean the size of Spauldings.  If you’re more conservative in your tastes, you can make the meatballs spoonful size).
  5. Coat balls with flour.
  6. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil, add meatballs and cook evenly over medium-high heat until brown (about 10 minutes). Cover, remove from heat and set aside.
  7. In a small saucepan, sauté the sofrito over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Lower heat, add tomato sauce and simmer, covered, about 5 minutes,
  8. Return meatballs to stove. Add tomato sauce and cook over medium heat, covered, for 15 minutes.
    Yield: 6 servings.