Meatballs are a welcome sight at anyone’s Italian table. These LAMB MEATBALLS are no different in that respect. These little balls of flavor are sure to delight all who sample them.
To Italians, meatballs can be a quite a personal thing. Everyone has a method – everyone has a secret – everyone’s Nonna or Mama makes the best. Some use dry breadcrumbs – some swear by soaking the bread – some use eggs – some don’t. For the record, in my heart and mind, my mother, Loretta, most definitely cornered the market with her simple moist and delicious meatballs. While I’m not here to dispute that any of your meatballs or my mother’s are indeed the very best, I would like to offer something a little bit different.
These LAMB MEATBALLS are definitely different than the usual Italian meatball. They are chock full of interesting ingredients that pop and stand out individually when you bite into them. They are delicious in your “Sunday Sauce” but also can serve an interesting and different purpose – as an appetizer!
These little balls of flavor are made in one bowl – with everything thrown in together. You can make them ahead and freeze them if you like. (You can even freeze them in the sauce!) You’ll notice that I use dry breadcrumbs. For the smaller meatballs with so many chunky ingredients, the dry seem to hold them together better. They moisten up in the sauce. You can fry them or bake them. I like to fry them a little and then finish them off in the sauce. The fact that they contain some very interesting and perhaps different ingredients makes them a perfect item for a cocktail buffet or an extra item at a holiday table. Use them any way you like – but they will disappear!
I have made them here in a smaller form as appetizers. You can use them any way you like.
When used as appetizers, I recommend a Sweet Tomato Sauce with a hint of mint which I include here. Perhaps a sprinkle of feta cheese at the end to serve?
Just for fun – see these same meatballs made with ground ELK!
Makes: 55-60 1 1/2 inch balls as an appetizer
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 3-4 minutes (fried) – about 12 minutes – baked
1 lb. Ground Lamb – ( if you don’t see it at your grocer, ask them to get it for you)
2 Links (about 7-8 oz.) Italian Sweet or Mild Sausage – out of the casings
3/4 C. Dry Plain Breadcrumbs – yes dry! The smaller balls with all the chunky ingredients hold better using them. They will moisten up in the sauce.)
1/4 C. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Provolone Cheese
1/4 C. Chopped Sundried Tomatoes packed in oil
1/4 C. Currants or Chopped Raisins
1 Clove Fresh Garlic – chopped finely
1/4 C. Toasted Pignoli (pine nuts)
Herbs: 1 Tbsp. Fresh Sage, 1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, 1 Tsp. Fresh Mint – all chopped
1/2 C. Crumbled Feta Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Lightly Beaten Egg
Oil for frying – if frying.
Sweet Tomato Sauce when serving as appetizer – recipe below.
Crumbled Feta for garnish
I like to use clean hands for all mixing with meatballs.
Mix ground lamb and sausage together in a large bowl.
Add: breadcrumbs, grated cheese, sundried tomatoes, currants, chopped garlic, toasted pignoli, herbs. Mix together well.
Add feta and mix gently.
Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Add egg and mix.
Roll meatballs with your hands. For appetizer size – about 1 1/2 inch size – using about one and one half Tbsp. of mixture per ball.
Fry in oil and drain on paper towels – about 3-4 minutes. Keep them moving in the oil for more even cooking. If baking – 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes – do not over bake. They will cook more in the sauce.
SWEET TOMATO SAUCE WITH MINT
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped finely
1 28 oz Can San Marzano Tomatoes – crush with hands if whole tomatoes
3 Tbsp. Fresh Basil – chopped
2 Tbsp. Fresh Mint – chopped
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat the garlic about a minute in the hot oil. Do not burn or brown the garlic!
Add the tomatoes, herbs, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
At medium high heat – bring to a strong bubble and then lower the heat.
Cook at lower temp., stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes until the sauce is thick and concentrated. Much of the liquid will cook off.
Add the meatballs to the sauce – gently toss so that all are coated. Cook another 5-7 minutes. Leave the meatballs in the sauce to serve, refrigerate, or freeze until you are ready to use them.
These LAMB MEATBALLS will be difficult to resist! The sauce is sweet and with a subtle hint of mint. These are amazing as appetizers and also delicious over orzo! Of course you can make larger ones and drop them in your own favorite tomato sauce.
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography