Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

This year most of my immediate family will be spending Christmas with us in sunny south Florida. It’s the first time in decades that we’re able to be together for the holidays, so it’s cause for celebration!

Easy Midia Dolma

Our Christmas noon-time meal will be at a restaurant, but after
that, everyone will come to our home to relax and catch up. Instead of a
sit-down evening meal, we’ll serve a casual buffet with some of our favorite nibbles – easy midia dolma, mini cheese boregs and paklava bites, to name a few. I plan to add
a lamb meatball recipe to the mix as well. These are perfect as an appetizer, and
can be cooked a day in advance to save time. (Recipe follows.)

Mini Paklava

We hope your Christmas will be
filled with joy and memories you will treasure!

Lamb Meatball Appetizer

Lamb Meatballs with Currants and Pine Nuts
and – Yogurt Sauce

Mint-Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:
(Best made one day in advance)
    1 cup plain
    1/4 cup chopped
fresh mint leaves
    1 garlic clove,
    1 Tbsp. lemon
    Kosher salt and
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions for Yogurt Sauce:
   In a small bowl,
mix the yogurt with the mint, garlic and lemon juice. Season the yogurt sauce
with salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Meatball Ingredients:
    3 tablespoons
dried currants
    3 tablespoons
pine nuts, coarsely chopped
    ¼ cup coarsely
chopped flat-leaf parsley
    1 teaspoon
fresh lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon
ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon
ground coriander
    1/2 tsp. Aleppo
red pepper, or paprika
    Kosher salt and
pepper to taste
    1 ½ lbs. ground
lamb (ground beef or ground turkey may be substituted)

Directions for Lamb Meatballs:
1. Place the currants in ¼ cup warm water for 5 minutes
to rehydrate; drain and pat dry.
2. For a chunky texture, in a small mixing bowl,
combine the currants, pine nuts, lemon juice, ground cumin,
ground coriander, Aleppo red pepper, and Kosher salt and pepper.
(Alternately, for a smooth texture, combine these
ingredients – except the meat – in a food processor to create more of a paste.)
 3. In a large
mixing bowl, add the currant – seasoning mixture to the ground lamb. Using your
hands, gently mix until well-combined.
4. Shape into balls using about 2 Tbsp. of the meat mixture
for each. Set the meatballs on a plate, cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate
until ready to cook. NOTE: Remove meatballs from refrigerator about 15
minutes before cooking.
 5. Lightly oil a
non-stick skillet then warm it over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, without
crowding the pan, and cook on all sides until meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Drain
any excess fat from the skillet.
6. Place cooked meatballs on paper towels to absorb any
excess fat, then place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a warm
(200°F) oven. Continue until all meatballs are cooked. Keep meatballs warm
until ready to serve.
Serve immediately with mint-yogurt sauce.

NOTE: If cooking the meatballs a day ahead, refrigerate
them in a covered container. Heat in a preheated 350° oven on a foil-lined baking pan for about 10 to 15
minutes or until warmed through; serve with mint-yogurt sauce.
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