Pork and shellfish combinations are common in Spain, from cured meats like chorizo with shellfish to cuts of pork with shellfish garnishes. The meaty texture of cockles, clams and mussels certainly lends itself to the partnership. 

If you can’t find live cockles for this, clams or mussels work equally well. To ensure the cockles are as sand-free as possible, place them in a bowl of water for 10 minutes, agitating them with your hands every couple of minutes and changing the water a few times, before a final rinse.


Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes


4 as part of a spread


For the meatballs

  • 350g minced pork belly
  • 1 tsp pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
  • 40g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • a little vegetable or corn oil, for frying

For the sauce

  • 250g passata
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve

To serve

  • 200g fresh cockles, washed well
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley


1. Mix the minced pork, pimentón and breadcrumbs together and season well. Make a small flat pattie as a tester and fry in a little oil for a minute on each side. Taste and check for seasoning, adjusting it as necessary.

2. Mould the rest of the mixture into balls about the diameter of a 10p coin and place on a plate or tray.

3. Mix the passata, garlic and olive oil in a pan and season. Simmer very gently for about 15 minutes, adjusting with a little water if it gets too thick.

4. Heat a heavy-bottomed or non-stick frying pan with a little oil and fry the meatballs on a high heat for a few minutes, until nicely coloured. Add to the sauce, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, place the cockles in a pan with a lid over a medium heat, shaking them every so often until they have all opened, then stir in the parsley. Drain any liquid from the cockles into the meatball sauce, then serve up the meatballs and sauce with the cockles on top, drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

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2023-03-09T21:36:26Z dg43tfdfdgfd