Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meatballs 4.0

Sometimes I surprise myself. I did a quick search on MM before drafting this blog post and found that I have featured the topic of meatballs here, here, and here. Hope you're not "over" the meatball because I HAVE to share another meatball recipe with you. You're just going to have to trust me on this one - let me lead you into the kitchen, I promise not to disappoint you.

Meatballs are one of this dishes that are either fantastic or disappointing. There is little room for anything else in between, however, after listening to Molly and Matthew's recent Spilled Milk podcast all about meatballs, I was inspired to make a batch.  Molly referred to a recipe in her book for Mediterranean style meatballs served a yogurt sauce and immediately I sprung into the kitchen to look it up.

What I loved about this recipe is how flexible and easily interchangeable it is when it comes to ingredients.  Don't have cilantro, but got parsley, substitute. Not a raisin fan, go ahead and substitute with dried cranberries.  The recipe calls for golden raisins, but I used dried cranberries instead. The original recipe calls for 1 lb. ground lamb, turkey or chicken - I did half and half, lamb and ground turkey.  Again, whatever your pleasure. The world is your oyster or in this case, a meatball or two.  The result is one mouthful of unctuous, sweet, earthy and nutty meat. I will wait for applause on this one.


Doran's Meatballs with Pine Nuts, Cilantro and Dried Cranberries (adapted from Molly Wizenberg's recipe in A Homemade Life)

For yogurt sauce:
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
3 tbs. lemon juice
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt 

For Meatballs:
1/2 c. yellow onion
1/4 c. fresh cilantro
1/2 c. pine nuts
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. fine bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb. ground lamb
1/2 lb. ground turkey, dark meat
2-4 tbs. olive oil

First, make the yogurt sauce.  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Allow the flavors to marry together.  You won't be sorry.

Using a food processor, pulse together the onion, cilantro, pine nuts and dried cranberries. In a large bowl or stand-up mixer, combine the ground meats, onion mixture, bread crumbs, beaten egg, salt, cumin, and pepper. Mix until combined, but do your best not to overmix, meat tends to get tough easily. With damp hands, use a small spoon or hands to take a small hunk of meat and form 1-1 1/2 inch balls.  Set aside on a large plate.

Warm 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Add about half of the meatballs (be careful not to overcrowd the pan) and brown them on all sides. The meatballs are ready when they are evenly browned and feel pleasantly firm, but not rock hard.  Transfer the cooked meatballs to a paper towel lined plate. Then repeat with second half of the batch, you may or may not have to use more oil, your call.  Trust your culinary instinct.

Serve warm with the yogurt sauce.


  1. yummy!! I must try this!! my hubby doesn't like pine nuts though, what substitute would you recommend? walnuts?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Yes, walnuts would work! Let me know how they turn out!