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Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

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Serves 4

  • by from Family Table

These Moroccan-spiced meatballs show up at family meal at Gramercy Tavern, where they’re served with a simple yogurt sauce that provides a creamy counterpoint and a cooling cucumber salad. They are seasoned with ras el hanout, a spice blend found in Middle Eastern markets. You bake the meatballs on a rack set on a baking sheet, rather than browning them on the stovetop, for a dish that cooks while you do something else.

For the meatballs
  • 1 Tbs. pine nuts
  • 1 lb. ground lamb shoulder
  • 1 Tbs. ras el hanout, or more to taste
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
For the sauce
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt or labneh
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Make the meatballs

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Set a rack on a baking sheet.

Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring so that they don’t burn. Transfer to a plate to cool, then chop them.

Put the lamb in a large bowl. Flatten it out, sprinkle the pine nuts, ras el hanout, salt, and garlic over it, and mix well by hand. To test for seasonings, flatten a tablespoon of the mixture into a patty, sear it in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and taste it. Add more salt and/or ras el hanout if necessary to the rest of the lamb mixture.

Moisten your hands and form the lamb mixture into 8 meatballs, about 2 inches in diameter, moistening your hands again if the mixture starts to stick. Arrange on the rack on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meatballs from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes to finish cooking.

Make the sauce

Put the yogurt in a bowl and season with salt and white pepper to taste. Stir in the oil. Slowly add up to 1/2 cup water, until the sauce is the consistency you like. Stir in the parsley.

Put the meatballs on a platter, spoon the sauce over them, and serve.

Photo: Marcus Nilsson

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