Because meatballs--whether made of beef, pork, veal, the classic combination of all three, or some other type of flesh--are among my favorite foods of all time, I was somewhat shocked to realize that I've never shared a recipe for them on the blog. In fact, they're not something I prepare all too often, which is a shame. I guess the reason for this is that meatball-making is a somewhat lengthy process, but since there's nothing complicated about it, it's really something I should tackle more often.
I recently invented a meatball recipe that, I have to say, has become my favorite way to prepare them. I've been lucky enough to have been hired to cater two events while here in France, both birthday parties, and it was for the occasion of the first one that I made this recipe up, subsequently preparing (and perfecting) it for the second one. I thought meatballs would make the perfect party food, since they're easy to spear with a toothpick, and I also wanted to make something unusual, that would stand out more than the average meatball. That's when I thought to take a cue from Greece, using a meat less commonly seen in meatballs--ground lamb--and to load it up with fresh herbs and chunks of feta. The resulting meatballs, served in a simple tomato sauce, are meaty but not heavy, their richness cut through with the brightness of the herbs and the sharpness of the feta. For the parties I served them on their own, but for a complete meal I think they'd be lovely over some rice, cracked wheat or bulgur.
Lamb Meatballs with Fresh Herbs and Feta
Serves 8 - 10
- 2 lbs. ground lamb (or substitute ground beef)
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
- 1/2 c. finely chopped parsley plus extra for garnish
- 1/2 c. finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 c. finely chopped mint
- 6 oz. feta cheese, cut into a small dice
- 4 tbsp. + 1 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 large can peeled plum tomatoes in juice
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the lamb, eggs, breadcrumbs, herbs, feta, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Mix gently to combine. Roll mixture into small- to medium-sized balls. You should end up with about 30 meatballs.
2. Heat 4 tbsp. of olive oil in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed skillet set over a medium-high flame. When oil is hot, add meatballs in batches, turning and shaking them occasionally to ensure even browning. Remove meatballs with a slotted spoon.
3. Empty canned tomatoes into a deep bowl or pot, then use your hands to crush them, leaving some chunks for texture.
3. When all meatballs are browned, wipe out pan and heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil over a medium flame. Add the tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of salt. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add meatballs, lower flame and cover partially, allowing meatballs to simmer until completely cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve garnished with a sprinkling of fresh parsley.