There are LOTS of different ways to prepare meatballs–at least 20 according to this Serious Eats piece. So far, the only meatball recipe I’ve covered on here is 9-4: Swedish Meatballs, although 9-44: Wok-Fried Beef Patties are pretty close. A quick Google search brings up albondigas for “South American meatballs”. Prior to 9-30: South American Meatballs, my only experience with either of these concepts is something similar to this recipe that you get at Mexican restaurants. And none of it involves coconut. 🌴
Coconut is the main thing here–it’s meatballs with coconut all up in there. It’s not a bad taste, just an an acquired one. Paprika is usually associated with Hungarian (European) cuisine, but its origins are in the Americas, brought over during all of that New World/Old World business in the 16th century.
This recipe calls for pan-frying–I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t go well. Fear not however, I improvised a bit by doing most of them in the oven and it worked out okay. Not great, but pan-frying in an apartment just leads to smoke and bad times.
Ingredients. I subbed panko for regular bread crumbs because I always do, and tomato paste for tomato purée because it really didn’t occur to me that they were (probably) two different things. However, tomato paste works just fine. I chose to use water for my panade rather than milk for dietary preferences.
Panade on the left, diced pepper and onion on the right.
Meat, with some salt & pepper. I went with all beef, because (as it usually goes) it was what I had.
Adding in the coconut & chili powder to the meat. Tomato paste in the background.
Everything together, with some parsley on top. Much redder than before, thanks to that tomato paste.
Rolled out my balls & coated them in coconut.
Up close–they’re very coconutty.
Dropped the first 3 into some canola oil in a hot pan–they immediately started falling apart. Instead of wrecking all 12, I decided to attempt to oven-fry them.
The dark 3 are the ones that I attempted to pan-fry. I covered the others with a good coating of spray coconut oil, placed them on a silpat, and stuck them in a 350°F oven for about 12-15 minutes.
After baking. It’s not pretty, but they’re definitely cooked, and even a little crispy.
Final plate. They were definitely edible (even tasty, I’d venture), and we ate the rest over the course of a few days (they were pretty big). I don’t know if I’d eat them all the time, but I think I’d attempt them again, maybe with a deep fat fryer for more uniform cooking and less smoke.