For Valentine’s Day, Suzen offered a class, what else, for couples. Couples who came in droves, cooked with laughter, and consumed with pleasure. The seven course meal featured a different sparkling wine with each course.
Suzen was curious about which of the seven dishes would please the crowd the most. Oh, it did not take long. In the kitchen, when the cooking was underway and long before nibbles touched palettes, the winner was evident: these lamb meatballs with yogurt sauce.
Men jostled to be part of the cooking team. Bodies stood around the oven, sniffing the aroma and waiting for the balls to escape from the heat. And when the meatballs and platter were put out for buffet, there was a deluge of hands reach down and over and around. Everyone wanted a meatball.
Now, everyone got one or two or three. But these were the first items gone. If we had made double, these would have been the first things gone.
Consider yourself warned. When you make these, they will disappear. Everyone will relish them. Everyone will want more.
We saw several recipes for meatballs, including one in the Williams Sonoma series Appetizers. We adapted that recipe and allowed our team to have full spice creativity. The results are amazing.
Spiced Lamb Meatballs With Garlicky Yogurt Sauce
Yield: about 40 enough for around 6 [maybe]
For the sauce:
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the meatballs:
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 slices firm white sandwich bread
- 1 pound ground lamb, preferably grass fed
- 3 green onions white and green parts minced
- ¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp. cayenne
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
Prepare the sauce: In a small serving bowl, stir together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper until well blended. Set aside at room temperature until serving.
Prepare the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.
Remove the crusts of the sliced bread and grind in a food processor. Sprinkle the crumbs with 2 tablespoons of water and toss to moisten evenly.
In another bowl, add the lamb, green onions, most of the parsley (save a small amount to garnish the sauce), the egg, cumin, paprikas, pepper, allspice, the moistened bread crumbs and salt and mix together gently with your hands. Scoop up a heaping teaspoon of the mixture; shape into a ball between your palms, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat to shape the remaining mixture. You should have about 40 meatballs total.
Bake the meatballs until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Alternately, you can brown the meatballs in 2 Tbsp. of oil in a sauté pan and finish cooking on a sheet pan in the oven. [This gives a better taste, trust me!]
Transfer the meatballs to a warmed platter and place the sauce alongside for dipping. Garnish with the reserved minced parsley. Serve right away with cocktail picks for spearing.
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55mm Lens, F/3.5, 1/30 second, ISO-320