Weeknight Cooking

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

February 19, 2012

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

- Jenny

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.

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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.

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce by MySocialChef

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
1 Egg

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Photo by Joseph DeLeo

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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


RMScott February 18, 2013
This recipe is somewhat similar to a dish we make at home called Cha Vop Che Che (I spelled it the way it is pronounced) which are Armenian meatballs however, we use a very nice tangy sauce. I will post the recipe in a few days if anyone is interested. They are simply delicious and many friends go crazy for 'those meatballs he makes'. I will definatly try yours and we sometimes stuff our cha vop che che with currents, garlic and a few spices with pine nuts which give it a wonderful suprise center. Thanks for posting this.
mdonovan33 February 26, 2012
I made these last night and they were really delicious!! Interesting flavors, especially with the yogurt sauce. I used about a pound and a quarter ground lamb and got 20 good-sized meatballs. I also turned them halfway through baking. Definitely a keeper! Would be great for a party, too!
lfree February 20, 2012
This recipe is so witty, I'm going to save it for the toenail-Sharpie quip alone. Oh, and the lamb part looks good too.
Jestei February 21, 2012
i really hope you like them!
lorigoldsby February 20, 2012
Thanks for sharing this recipe! I haven't added the dried fruit before but will try this next week for Jackie's middle eastern meets Midwestern birthday extravaganza!
Jestei February 21, 2012
The dried fruit really makes the ball!
MrsWheelbarrow February 20, 2012
What a delightful thing to do to ground lamb. As you might expect, I will grind my own, thank you very much. And do everything else just as you say, with the exception of the mango yogurt. What were you thinking?
Jestei February 21, 2012
I dunno. It was there.