Generally speaking, protein is the Ryan Gosling component of your dinner. It is meant to open the picture, with some carbs or vegetables in a supporting role.
The thing about Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce is that the meat is a versatile player – it can be the centerpiece, the side or even an hors d'oeuvres, served with a lovely cocktail. You can tuck these guys into a pita with some of the yogurt, pile them on some orzo next to a salad, or pop them straight from the baking sheet into your mouth as you coat your lashes with mascara and cover the chips in your toenail polish with a Sharpie, getting ready for a big night out.
This is an all purpose, any meal of the day, quick as lightning dish that you’ll want to save here, even if your plans do not call for lamb in the immediate future. This is a one-bowl deal, and all the ingredients come together in one fell swoop, unless you are making the yogurt and even then you can skip that step and just use a nice fully fatted plain Greek yogurt for dipping. (Pro tip: not mango yogurt. I dipped one in an almost empty container whose contents had been mostly dumped into a smoothie, just because I was curious. You were never going to do that, but now you know.)
When recipes are this easy, you may be tempted to cut them even shorter, but don’t. The pine nuts (stop here to curse their still indefensibly high price) need to be chopped up, or you will have unattractive chunks, and please do take the time to make the meatballs smaller than a golf ball, or they will overcook on the outside.
I didn’t have dried currants so I used cranberries. I note that someone else used dried cherries, which would be even better. It’s all about the ding of the sweet matched with the particular grassy flavor of the lamb, and the texture of the pine nuts, which of course are not crunchy at all but softly resistant, a baby’s grip on a toy.
I have seen a few people ask if they can use buffalo or beef instead of lamb here. I do not recommend that. This is a recipe for those who like lamb, and those who do not should slide on down the food chain.
Makes 12-14 Meatballs
1 pound Ground Lamb
1/4 cup Dried Currants
1/4 cup Pine Nuts - Chopped
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
2/3 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
Photo by Joseph DeLeo