Grass-fed ground lamb is usually pretty inexpensive in my local Giant grocery store. Therefore, I've gotten a bit past the "but baby lambs are so cute" guilt, and learned how to make some stuff. It's a good source of protein and often used in Mediterranean recipes which makes for interesting flavors and recipes I didn't grow up with.
This time, I wanted to make something I hadn't made before. But I also didn't want to go back to the store for anything extra. Problematically, most recipes looked delicious and called for large quantities of spices I don't keep on hand, like coriander, or herbs I have repeatedly killed in my window sill garden, like mint. (Sidebar: Is coriander a pantry staple? Am I out of the loop on this? And also, mint is supposed to be really hard to kill. And yet...)
Oh, also, I didn't want to spend forever cooking something new and complicated. So when I found this New York Times recipe that promised lamb balls in 20 minutes and didn't call for anything I didn't have, I was sold.
And now for the list of ingredients, and notes on which ones I didn't have.
So, mush everything together, then form kind of equal sized balls. The recipe even says imperfection yields better results (my kind of recipe!) as forming perfectly even balls tends to overwork and toughen the meat. I am totally on board with imperfection and less work. I put some foil down and lightly coated the pan with olive oil, to help with clean-up. Then, it got dramatic. Firstly, with the tahini-yogurt sauce and secondly, with the smoke alarm.
The recipe calls for you to broil the meatballs at about 3 inches below the broiler for 8-10 minutes, during which time you mix your tahini, garlic, yogurt and lemon. I used the recommended ratios and my sauce seemed less like sauce, and more like...paste. So, I added more citrus, in the form of lime because I'd run out of lemon. I figured it wasn't quite edible as it was, so I didn't have anything to lose if the lime didn't work out. Fortunately, that did the trick and the sauce was actually great. Oddly (maybe?), I don't love the taste of it on its own, but on the lamball, it was outstanding.
Not pictured: ALL of the smoke alarms going off. I don't know if I was too close to the broiler, or had too much oil down, or if broiling is maybe just not the best way to do this, but about halfway into cooking time, there was enough smoke to set off all my smoke detectors in my 12-foot ceilings. Also, there were flames inside the oven. I very calmly moved the pan down a shelf and turned all the fans on, and they stopped torturing the dogs within a few minutes, but didn't find time to catch this on camera as I was fanning a towel in the general direction of the smoke detectors.
They came out great anyway! Or at least, good enough for 20-ish minutes of work and a small fire.
Taste: Very tasty, especially with the dipping sauce/paste. I would work on my tahini-yogurt sauce in the future and play with some variations. The balls themselves were very flavorful and a great addition to my greens for quick protein and veggies. Also, I'm weird and like to eat them cold. Or maybe heating things is just too much work sometimes.
Nutrition: Lamb isn't exactly a "lean protein." In fact, it's pretty heavy in saturated fats. This is grass-fed, so we're getting a little more of the Omegas than we might otherwise, and it's filling, so a typical 4oz. serving is perfect for a meal. That contains just about 300 calories, though, which is good to be aware of. This recipe doesn't call for any added fats, as they aren't required, and the natural dietary fat makes this very flavorful and satisfying. As with most sauces, it can be easy to go overboard and rack up calories without noticing, but I found a light dip with my bites was plenty of flavor. Depending on time of day and your level of activity (I was eating this for dinner, before bed), I would generally suggest pairing with some leafy or fiber-y greens to maximize nutrition in this meal, rather than rice or other carb.
Life: As billed, these took about 20 minutes start to plate. They are tasty and easy, keep well for a few days, and are filling. As lamb meat is fattier than other proteins, be aware of how much you're eating so you don't accidentally overdo it on energy.
I'm gonna try something with coriander next.
Trying foods, trying moves and trying to be more awesome.