by / Friday, January 7, 2011

Lamb mini-Meatball Pita

We're pretty much past the point where we "hide" ingredients from the kids.  I mean, they're pretty open-minded when it comes to food (like they have another choice)...but they are still kids.  Up until recently I'd never really had a source for lamb.  But since I stumbled across one, I can't get enough!  Lamb is really a delicious meat. I've always loved gyros...and lamb shanks...but they were always an every "once in a while" thing I'd order when I was out.  I rarely eat out.  My point being that I made mini meatballs the other night from lamb.  And didn't tell the kids that it was lamb they were eating.  Kids...my kids...are bound to conjure up sweet images in their heads of petting zoos and nursery rhymes...so I figured I'd just wait until they were done eating.  Then I just decided not to mention it at all.  Unless they asked.  They all LOVED the meatballs.  And it turns out that Sweet Thang is an complete lamb aficionado. Albeit, unbeknownst to him. Whoda thunk it? I almost hate pulling the wool over his eyes{Ba dum bum} Almost.  Oh sure...the fact that the kids adore lamb at least in mini-meatball form...will be thrown in their face revealed sooner or later, but until that  day comes, I say...Who's up for a mini meatball sammich!?
 Aromatic Lamb Meatballs
makes: ~80 mini meatballs
1 lb. ground lamb
¼ c. finely chopped scallions
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. semolina
1 egg 
coconut oil, for frying
Put the lamb into a bowl and add the scallions. Sprinkle over the spices, salt, and semolina, and then beat the egg adding to the bowl. Work everything together thoroughly with your hands, and then cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for half an hour.
Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and scoop out a scant teaspoon of the mixture. Roll in your hands to form the meatball and place on the lined baking sheet. Have a bowl of cold water beside you to dampen your hands with; this helps them not get too sticky for rolling the meatballs.
When you are ready to cook them, heat about ½" of oil in a frying pan. Line another baking sheet with paper towels, and when the oil is hot, fry the meatballs in batches (without overcrowding the pan). Cook them for about a minute a side, or until golden brown all over.

They were excellent stuffed into a grilled whole wheat pita with sliced red onion, baby spinach, cucumber, tomato, feta and then drizzled with Tzatziki sauce!  Um yes...I'm totally craving one now.  Right.  Now.
I made a killer Tzatziki to drizzle over the mini meatballs and veggies...and I even did it last minute!  Normally, you would drain some yogurt overnight in order to get rid of most of the liquid it contains, but since I spaced it until last minute, I simply used a thick greek yogurt un-strained...the resulting sauce was a bit more drizzleable...but no less addicting. If any whey has formed on top of the yogurt, simply pour it off before scooping what you need from the carton. If you want it quicker and plan ahead, then simple strain the yogurt overnight in a cheesecloth lined colander set over a bowl in the fridge.

Quick Tzatziki Sauce
makes~1½ c.

~1½ c. plain Greek yogurt
1 fat clove garlic, finely minced
~1/3 English Cucumber, grated
2 big pinches sea salt
~1 Tbs. dried dill weed
drizzle olive oil
drizzle red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

Stir everything together and adjust seasoning to taste.

Once the meatballs are made, this makes a quick, flavor-packed meal that you can throw together at any time.  Just be sure to bury the wrapping that clearly states 'ground lamb' under the other things in the trash bin...lest your secret be revealed.

Heather is a Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, dark beer, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.


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