Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Cooking is Fun... And Easy!! Minty Lamb Meatballs with Spicy Tahini Sauce and Lemon Zest

This weekend, I had an interesting time exploring Molly Baz’s cookbook Cook This Book: Techniques to Teach and Recipes to Repeat.  Last night, I did a riff on her Minty Lamb Meatballs with Crispy Cabbage and Tahini Sauce, but you know me, I like to punch things up a bit so I've adjusted this recipe to our tastes.  In hindsight, after making it, I also decided to to this on the stovetop and change up a few more things.  


1 small green cabbage (or red if you prefer)
3 garlic cloves, divided
1 cup mint leaves, divided
2 lemons, halved, and one of them zested
1 medium sweet onion
1 egg
1 pound of ground lamb
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Diamond Crystal kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, divided
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (chili paste, I like Rooster brand...you could sub in sriracha here) 
Large heavy skillet
Fork, placed in freezer

Step 1. Slice the onion into four planks, crosswise through the onion, and cut each plank in half crosswise again.  You'll end up with a lot of "C" shaped pieces of onion.  Quarter the cabbage and slice the core end off and remove the inner core of the cabbage from each quarter.  Slice what's left into 4 slices long ways.  You'll end up with a lot of cabbage "ribbons".  Toss the whole lot into a bowl, and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss until the whole lot is nicely coated with the oil  Add a drizzle of additional oil if you feel everything is not coated.  Set aside.

Step 2.  Time to make some meatballs!  In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg, add the panko bread crumbs, add 2 tablespoons of the tahini, the cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir until combined.  Put 2 garlic cloves through a microplaner into the mixture.  Chop 1/2 cup of the mint leaves and add them to the mixture, followed by about 1/3 of the lamb.  Using your cold fork from the freezer, gently mix the panko mixture into the lamb until its evenly distributed and no pockets of panko remain.  Do not overwork (the cold fork helps with this).  Add the remaining 2/3 of the lamb and, still using your fork, mix in.  Roll into meatballs, again taking care to be gentle and not overhandle the meat mixture.  Over handling (or overworking) will make your meatballs tough.  Place the meatballs on a plate or a sheet pan.  Take a small pan, and cook one of your meatballs.  I can't stress this step enough!  The meatball should be browned on all sides over medium heat, and an instant-read thermometer should register 150--that's perfectly medium for lamb.  Taste your single meatball--do you need to add anything to the mixture?  More salt?  More cumin?  More whatever?  If not, place the meatballs in the fridge to cool.

Step 3.  Make the tahini sauce by stirring together 1/2 cup tahini, 1/2 cup water, the juice of two lemons, the sambal oelek, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  Put 1 garlic clove through a microplaner and mix in.  Whisk to combine, it should have a pourable consistency, so add a little more water if it’s too thick.  Set aside.

Step 4.  To cook the cabbage/onions, put 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is shimmering, toss in your onions and cabbage.  Stir into a single layer and let saute until the bottom starts to char, about 8 minutes.  Stir the whole lot, and repeat.  It's done when the cabbage and onions are nice and soft with little charred bits here and there.  Remove to a plate.

Step 5.  Cook the meatballs in the same skillet you did the onions and cabbage in, no need to wipe it out.  Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and cook over medium heat, adding the meatballs when the oil starts shimmering.  Cook on all sides until browned and an instant read thermometer reads 150.  Remove to a couple of paper towels.  Toss the cabbage and onions back in the pan to warm.

This recipe serves 4.  To compose each plate, spread 1/4 of the tahini sauce on the plate, sprinkle 1/8 of a teaspoon of Aleppo pepper over it, add 1/4 of the cabbage/onion mix, 1/4 of the meatballs, and 1/4 of the remaining mint leaves, then sprinkle with 1/4 of the lemon zest.   

Buen Provecho!!

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, those sound divine! By the way, thank you for the kind words about the estrangement from my son and yeah...that shit is hard. :(