Smoked Paprika & Orange Pork Meatballs with Garlic Tomato Sauce

This was last night's dinner. It was also my lunch yesterday since I had to make and test it, first.

Rough life, I know.

Smoked paprika will forever be one of my favorite flavors, and a few years ago I took a class with a sausage maker who told me that his favorite flavor combo was smoked paprika and orange. I tried it. I loved it, and I'm now forever looking for ways to use it (this roast pork loin is another fave).

These meatballs are made with a paste of garlic, orange, and smoked paprika, then baked until fully cooked. While the meatballs are in the oven, you make the easy sauce with just a few basic pantry ingredients (garlic, olive oil, canned tomatoes, etc). Combine the two and let the meatballs simmer until tender, then serve with some grated cheese and a sprinkle of orange zest on top.

I love these just on their own with a big salad on the side, but I'm sure it would be great with pasta, too. Or turn them into a fancy meatball sub on a crusty baguette! Lots you can do with this, for sure.

This one is great for entertaining since you can make the whole thing a day in advance and just reheat before serving. If you want, double the meatball recipe, and you can freeze half for another delicious meal one day in the future.

Love this recipe? Here are a few other of my favorite easy meatball recipes:

(And if you give this recipe a try, take a pic and share it on Instagram with me, tagging @alwaysalejandra)

Smoked Paprika & Orange Pork Meatballs with Garlic Tomato Sauce
Serves 8

For the meatballs:
2 tablespoons smoked spanish paprika
8 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
Zest of 1 whole navel orange (about 2 tablespoons fresh zest)
3 lbs ground pork
1/2 cup bread crumbs
4 large eggs

For the sauce:
1/3 cup olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry white wine
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons smoked spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
kosher salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

 In a blender or food processor, combine paprika, garlic, salt, olive oil, onion, and orange zest. Puree until smooth.

Pour pureed ingredients into a large bowl along with the pork, bread crumbs, and eggs. Mix with hands until evenly combined.

Use a spoon to grab a few tablepoons of the pork mixture and roll into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with rest of meat.

Bake about 25 minutes, or until meatballs are fully cooked through. Remove from oven, cover with foil and set aside until sauce is ready.

While meatballs bake, prepare the sauce.

Pour 1/3 cup olive oil in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven and add the sliced garlic. Heat on medium low heat and let the garlic simmer in the oil until it toasts slightly (about 5-7 minutes—keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn).

Add the tomatoes, wine, diced onion, paprika, and red pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer mostly covered for at least 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove lid from sauce and add the meatballs, nestling them tightly together in the pot. (Layer them if necessary) Let simmer an additional 20 minutes, or until sauce has thickened and meatballs are fully heated and tender.*

Serve hot with your favorite accompaniment.

*Note that at this point you can also place meatballs in sauce, then cover and chill up to 2 days. Reheat gently on medium-low heat on the stove or in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes before serving.

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