The recipe for these meatballs is Andy Baraghani’s from the December 2017 issue of Bon Apetit with a couple of minor tweaks.
When I served these lamb meatballs recently, I was told they could not be called meatballs—they were amazeballs. Juicy caramelized lamb with a hint of spice, the sweet-bright hit of herbs, the creamy tang of yogurt, and a shower of citrusy lemon zest really shouldn’t be called something as pedestrian as meatballs. Plus, they’re extremely simple, quick, and impressive: all of my favorite things.
You will get about 25 bites from this recipe, and you can serve them either with a salad and flatbread for lunch/dinner or as an appetizer for a larger party. It’s all ready in less than 30 minutes, but you can also form the meatballs on a baking sheet earlier in the day and pop them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them. The pesto can be made up to a day ahead of time. Or freeze the meatballs (after forming and baking them), then heat them up at 350F for 15 minutes (or pop a few in the microwave for a quick snack).
You will need:
For the meatballs:
1 lb ground lamb
½ C bread crumbs
Spices: ½ t cumin, ½ t red pepper flakes, ½ t turmeric, ¼ t ground coriander
1 ½ t kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ C parsley, chopped
2 T olive oil
¼ C water
For the pesto:
½ C olive oil
2 C mint leaves
1 C parsley leaves and stems
1 garlic clove
3 T golden raisins
1 t kosher salt
Plain Greek yogurt
Turn your oven on to 425F.
Measure all of the meatball ingredients into a bowl, then smoosh them together with your hands. Don’t worry about over-working the meat; you actually want to work it pretty thoroughly.
Handling it helps to distribute the fat and break down myocin, a meat protein. When the mixture gets sticky, it’s ready— your meatballs won’t fall apart and will have that coveted springy texture.
Once you’ve mixed up your meat, shape it into balls and place onto a rimmed baking sheet. You should have about 25 balls the size of donut holes. Pop them into the oven and set your timer for 10 minutes.
Add all of the pesto ingredients but the olive oil to a food processor. I used a mixer, and I didn’t like that the pesto got so completely pureed. I’d have rather had some chunkiness to the sauce, so I’d recommend the food processor, instead. Do as I say, not as I did! Process for 30 seconds or so, then stream the olive oil in while the machine is running. Once it’s thoroughly mixed, you’re done with the sauce.
Your meatballs should be done by now—make sure they are getting nice and brown on the outside, and you can hear sizzling. Internal temp should be about 165F if you have a thermometer; otherwise cut one open to check if you’re uncertain. It shouldn’t be pink inside.
Smear yogurt onto a serving plate, scatter your warm amazeballs on top, then drizzle with the pesto and finish by zesting a lemon over it all.
You’ve got a beautiful, unique, tasty dish that took mere minutes to make. Don’t make boring old meatballs when you can party with amazeballs!