Middle Eastern Spiced Meatballs

Recipe by Kendall Blizzard of @kendalls.kitchen

Lamb is a protein not many people eat regularly. It’s a flavorful, tender meat that can often be found at many farmers markets. I grew up eating lamb from my Lebanese heritage. It’s a protein I am always advocating for, especially when you can find grass-fed, ethically raised meat from a nearby farmer. Which brings me to Sabol’s Farm and their Ithaca Farmers Market booth. Many of my friends and family know Sabol’s since I often refer to Richard as, “my lamb guy.” Whenever I’m craving a taste of my childhood, I go grocery shopping at the farmers market and stop by Sabol’s booth for the ground lamb.

This recipe utilizes Middle Eastern and North African flavors on Finger Lakes ingredients to merge my two worlds together. All of these ingredients can be found at stores or markets locally. Spices and spice mixes such as Aleppo pepper, za’atar and ras el hanout can be found at stores such as F. Oliver’s, GreenStar or Wegmans. All of the eggs, bread, and produce, including the fresh turmeric root, can be found at the farmers market. I am quite picky about turmeric: I’m not a fan of the dried powder, but I appreciate cooking with the fresh root. When it’s harvest season, I buy multiple roots and keep them in the freezer.

I love to spice up produce that’s always in abundance in our region, so I paired the meatballs with spicy roasted root vegetables.

INGREDIENTS

1lb ground lamb
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp Ras El Hanout (Moroccan spice mix: cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric)
1 tbsp Za’atar (Middle Eastern spice mix: thyme, cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt)
1 tsp Aleppo Pepper
½ tsp fresh or frozen Turmeric root, minced
¼ cup Breadcrumbs
2 Egg Yolks
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Pair the meatballs with a spicy side dish: Harissa Roasted Root Vegetables
Harissa (a spicy Tunisian pepper paste)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Veggies: Carrots, Turnips, Rutabaga, Golden Beets, Sweet Potato
S&P

The vegetables take longer to cook, so address them first.

PREPARATION

Harissa Roasted Root Vegetables
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Chop your choice of root vegetables into 1 inch sized pieces.
3. Place in a bowl, drizzle with EVOO, a tsp. of harissa paste (you can substitute with Sriracha, or hot sauce), salt, and pepper, then toss to evenly coat.
4. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
5. Once done, remove baking sheet and turn the oven temp down to 375 degrees.

Middle Eastern Spiced Meatballs
1. If frozen, defrost the lamb. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Sauté the onion in a tbsp. of EVOO over medium heat, until golden and soft. Add in the minced turmeric root and the garlic for an additional minute, until fragrant. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl.
3. In the large bowl, add in the breadcrumbs, spices, salt and pepper, then mix to combine. This should help cool down the mixture, so the eggs don’t scramble. Then add in the two egg yolks and mix to combine.
4. Add in the ground lamb and mix. Make sure the spice mix is evenly integrated into the meat.
5. Scoop and roll meat mixture into golf ball sized meatballs. Then place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat until all the meat mixture is used.
6. Tip for golden brown meatballs with a beautiful crust: Once all of the meatballs are formed, drizzle EVOO over them, and reform them in your hands to evenly coat in EVOO. Evenly coating them will create a 360-degree golden brown crust.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Gently flip the meatballs, and then continue baking for 10 additional minutes.
8. Let the meatballs rest out of the oven. Place the baking sheet of vegetables back in the oven to reheat for about 5 minutes.
9. Serve meatballs and vegetables together. Additions to serve with: labneh (Middle Eastern yogurt-cheese), a thin drizzle of honey, parsley, or couscous.

As my mom says, sahtein!

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