Meatballs are not really a staple of American soul food, but they show up in the comfort food repertoire of different cultures all over the world. They can been fried, simmered, grilled or steamed. They can be made of beef, pork, veal, lamb, goat, or a combination of two or more. Now, I don't count "meatless meatballs" or those made from fish or seafood, but I will happily scarf one down as long as they are made with real ingredients and not fake or processed products (be they plant based or not!).
One of my favorite meatballs is a Mediterranean classic - lamb kofta, which are delectably savory and juicy meatballs that can be stuffed or wrapped in bread or eaten on their own as a main dish. My version is pretty close to the traditional recipe though I throw in fresh herbs herbs and touch of heat. Serve with cucumber yogurt sauce for dipping, warm pita, and a green salad for a lovely spring supper. Make the sauce first and let it rest in the refrigerator while you cook the meatballs.
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
1 large cucumber
2 c. Greek or Armenian yogurt (you can use low fat or nonfat, but I prefer full fat!)
Juice of one lemon
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1/4 c. green onions, finely chopped
1/4 c. dill, finely chopped
2 tbsp mint, finely chopped
2 tsp sea salt
1. Peel the cucumber and discard or compost the peel. Spilt the cucumber lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Grate the cucumber and place in a medium bowl.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the cucumbers and stir until smooth and well-combined. Cover tightly and set in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
3. To serve, spread the sauce in a thick layer on a platter and set the meatballs on top, or spoon into a bowl. This sauce is great with meatballs, grilled chicken, with fresh cut vegetables, and with bread. It will keep up to 4 days - stir well before serving.
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 c. finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 c. finely chopped dill
2 tbsp finely chopped mint
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
Lemon wedges to serve
1. In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients until well combined with your hands or a sturdy spoon.
2. Make meatballs using about 1/3 cup of the mixture for each meatball and line up on a plate to prepare for frying.
3. Heat oil over medium heat in a cast iron skittle or similar heavy frying pan until the oil shimmers. Cook the meatballs in batches, making sure to brown on all sides. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through. Transfer to a warm plate and cover with foil until ready to serve. Serve hot with the cucumber yogurt sauce and lemon wedges.