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Lamb Meatballs with Tzatziki Recipe

© 2011 Todd Porter and Diane Cu, licensed to About.com, Inc.
These lamb meatballs are kicked up with cumin and mint, two popular Greek flavorings. They are served with the traditional Greek sauce known as tzatziki, which is easily made at home with cucumbers, yogurt, lemon, mint, and dill. Serve these meatballs as a crowd-pleasing appetizer at your next party for an interesting change of pace. Make the tzatziki sauce a day in advance for best flavor. It will keep up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 24 meatballs

Ingredients:

  • Lamb Meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 3 Tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or crushed in a garlic press
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 cup fresh mint, loosely packed and finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 fresh lemon for squeezing and garnish, cut into quarters
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • .
  • Tzatziki:
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (see Notes)

Preparation:

Lamb Meatballs:
In the bowl with the lamb, add red onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, cumin, mayonnaise, fresh mint, and salt. Using your hands, mix thoroughly to distribute the ingredients evenly. With a teaspoon, form the mixture into 24 meatballs. Don't level the meat off or pack the meatballs too tightly.

Preheat the broiler.

Lightly spread canola oil on a baking sheet using a paper towel. Place the meatballs 2 inches apart on the baking sheet, and position the baking sheet 4 inches from the heat source. Broil for about 5 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Arrange the meatballs on a serving platter, and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top. Sprinkle the cayenne pepper over the meatballs at the last minute. Serve at once with mint tzatziki.

Yield: 24 meatballs

Tzatziki:
Place cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, mint, and dill in a bowl and mix well. Add the Greek yogurt and mix well.

Cover with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Yield: 12 servings

Author's Note: You must use Greek-style yogurt when you make tzatziki; plain yogurt is too tart. Most markets carry Greek-style yogurt, but if you can't find it, you can use plain yogurt; just make sure to allow enough time to prepare it: Drain plain yogurt through a cheesecloth over a bowl for at least 2 hours on your counter at room temperature. Liquid (the whey) will drip into the bowl, leaving you with a smooth yogurt that is creamy and not tart! Refrigerate the strained yogurt until you are ready to use it.

Recipe Source: "Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love" by Cristina Ferrare (Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.)
Lamb Meatballs with Tzatziki Photo © 2011 Todd Porter and Diane Cu, licensed to About.com, Inc.
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