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Lamb Meatballs with spiced tomato sauce, mint, and feta


courtesy The A.O.C Cookbook
Suzanne Goin

pic copied from book with cellphone

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Rate this recipe 4.9/5 (8 Votes)


  • 3/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 XL egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp crushed aleppo pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs ground lamb (or beef/pork combo)
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 recipe spiced tomato sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 lb feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp sliced mint leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • Spiced tomato sauce
  • 3 cups canned san marzano or muir glen tomatoes (or italian plum)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (i use grape seed)
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 1 chile de arbol, crumbled
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 bag leaf
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 c freshly squeezed orange juice plus 3 inch strip of orange zest
  • salt and pepper


Servings 4


Step 1

First the sauce:
pass the tomatoes through a food mill,
toast the cumin seeds for a few minutes over medium heat, until they release their aroma and are lightly browned, pound them finely in a mortar.
Heat a saucepan over medium high heat for 1 minute then add oil, the rosemary and chile and heat another minute. Add the onion, thyme, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne bay leaf and saute for 5-6 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the toms, sugar, juice and zest, heaping 1/2 tsp salt and some freshly ground pepper. Cook for 8-10 minutes over medium low heat until reduced by one third. Taste for seasoning

The meatballs:
first of all, I would NEVER waste my time with lamb, preferring equal amounts freshly ground beef and pork in my kichenaid grinder. That said.....
preheat oven to 400
In a large bowl mix together onions, cream, yolks, cinnamon, cumin, aleppo pepper and cayenne. Place the lamb in the bowl and season evenly with 2 1/2 tsp salt and lots of pepper. Add the breadcrumbs (this is where you can make it gluten free) and parsley. Combine the mixture well. Shape the balls into 1 1/2 oz balls, or use a cookie scoop and roll the contents after scooping out all the mixture into little piles.
Pour the tomato sauce into a large oven to table baking dish

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the balls on it, spacing evenly after rolling them into balls.
Turn the meatballs over during cooking. Watch the process as you don't want to overcook them as they will continue cooking in the sauce. When you suspect they are done, cut one in half and inspect for any lingering red colored uncooked meat.

Once they are done remove tray from oven and warm up sauce on stovetop. Once the sauce has come to a slow boil, add the meatballs gently to the sauce coating all the meatballs, then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes

I usually have a bag in the freezer of pureed leeks, or a roasted baby yam in the fridge. I have been known to add about 1/2 of pureed leek and one baby yam to the meat mixture. Meatballs are a great way to hide veg on the grandchildren. Don't be tempted to add butternut squash or any other squash, it's to squashyyyy tasting. Just the yam or/and pureed leek

before serving add the crumbled feta and mint over the dish.

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