This past spring I was on a meatball mission. Since they so frequently have breadcrumbs I rarely get to them out at restaurants. I made a dozen variations and finally settled on this as the all-around favorite inspired by Jerusalemjerusalem. These have a Middle Eastern flair with the herbs and lemon and can be served with rice, vegetables, or just in the juices in which they are cooked. These are amazingly simple and naturally gluten and dairy free.
Lamb and Beef Meatballs with Lemon
makes about 24 meatballs
3-5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound ground beef (not too lean)
5 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon mint, chopped
1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves
2 lemons and zest
extra mint and cilantro for garnish
In a large bowl, combine the meats, 3 of the green onions, garlic, egg, mint and cilantro, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and a hefty couple of turns of the pepper mill. Mix well with your hands. Form the mixture into 2-inch in diameter meatballs (roughly the size of a golf ball).
In a large skillet (with a lid), heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add as many of the meatballs as will fit comfortably without touching. Sear for about 2 minutes on 2 sides. Remove the meatballs and set aside. Do this in as many batches as it takes to sear all the meatballs, remembering to add a tablespoon of oil before each batch.
In the same skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and scrape up all of the brown bits from the meatballs, leaving them in the pan. Add the remaining 2 green onions, broth, wine, bay leaves, 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice and bring to a boil. Keep the liquid at a low boil for 4-5 minutes.
To the skillet, add the meatballs, another tablespoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. The liquid should cover about 1/4-1/2 of the meatballs. Cover and simmer gently for about 8-10 minutes. Turn the meatballs and spoon the juices over them and partially cover for another 5-8 minutes. The liquid should get a little thicker but not dry- make sure there is always enough liquid to spoon over the meatballs. If it starts to dry, add another 1-2 Tablespoons of broth or water.
Let the meatballs sit in the broth until ready to serve. Sprinkle additional herbs and lemon zest for garnish. Taste for salt and pepper if needed.
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