Friday, November 6, 2009

Lamb Meatballs

I love lamb.

I especially love lamb when I can get it locally at the farmer's market. I've bought lamb a couple times now from Loncito's at the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market. The first time was earlier this summer after Loncito himself and Lou Lambert taught a class on lamb at the north Central Market cooking school. They made a lamb rillette with the shoulder, but after talking to him at the farmer's market, he suggested the neck bones. You basically just plop the bones in olive oil, and let it simmer for a couple of hours. The meat fell right off the bones, and it was to die for. Particularly when served as suggested as a little sandwich with some mustard and chutney; the acidity in the chutney helps cut the fat while enhancing the flavor. It was, in a word, incredible.

This past Saturday, I got a pound of ground lamb from them. (Also fresh mint from one of the stands, and I can't remember the name, oops!) I made a meatball recipe that I have made a few times before, but never with the locally procured lamb. It's a recipe from, and I've adapted it slightly over time. One of the key things to remember when making meatballs is to not overwork the meat, as that will make them stiffer. The currants add a nice touch of sweetness, and the sesame seeds nice texture.

This recipe also makes me reminisce, as I was in Morocco exactly a year ago, eating lamb and seeing sesame plants for the first time. :)

Sesame Lamb Meatballs with Mint Yogurt Dip, makes 18 golf ball sized meatballs
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 lb. ground lamb
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, finely ground
1 large egg, beaten lightly
2 - 3 Tbsp. dried currants
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup white sesame seeds

-- In a small bowl, combine yogurt, mint, lemon juice & salt. Combine well and set aside. This can be made ahead and refrigerated. Best when made at least 30 minutes before eating so flavors can meld.
-- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
-- In a medium skillet, heat oil over med-low heat, and saute onion & garlic until softened. Let cool slightly.
-- In a large bowl, place onion mixture; add mint, salt, allspice, & cinnamon and combine well.
-- Add lamb, bread crumbs, egg, & currants. Mix thoroughly (with hands is best), but do not over mix or squeeze too hard.
-- Form balls; I make golf-ball sized ones.
-- Combine both the sesame seeds on a small plate. Roll the meatballs in the seeds, lightly patting them on and shaking off excess.
-- Place on a wire rack that is set in a baking sheet (so fat can drip into the baking sheet). Place the meatballs on the rack, evenly spacing them.
-- Bake for about 12 minutes, or until just cooked through. Let cool slightly before serving with the yogurt dip.

* I think I may have cooked these in a skillet once, rather than the oven, but not totally sure. I think it would work just fine. I did manage to set my smoke detector off when I made them the other night, as the dripping fat was apparently getting rather hot in the oven!