I owe a great debt to Ottolenghi for this glorious recipe. His newest publication – ‘Jerusalem’ masterfully depicts the beautiful cuisine of his native Israel and is the origin of this recipe (with a few small tweaks)!
Lamb meatballs are spiced with cinnamon and allspice and cooked in a wonderfully rich stock alongside dried figs and banana shallots. Cooking slow and low ensures the stock reduces to a delicious consistency – packing a seriously rich punch, the sweetness working in harmony with the salty, herby meatballs.
Ask your butcher for freshly twice-minced lamb shoulder (around 75% lean) to ensure the meatballs remain tender and moist. Topped with greek yogurt and an abundance of fresh herbs – the dish works perfectly with fresh lemon and sultana couscous.
Spiced Lamb Meatballs
For the Meatballs: 500g Minced Lamb Shoulder, 1 Medium Onion (Finely Chopped), Large Handful Flat Leaf Parsley (Chopped), 2 Garlic Cloves (Crushed), 1/2 tsp Allspice, 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon, 50g Dried Cranberries, 1/2 Medium Egg (Beaten).
For the Sauce: 4tbsp Sunflower Oil, 5 Banana Shallots (Peeled), 200ml White Wine, 400ml Chicken Stock, 2 Bay Leaves, 3 Thyme Sprigs, 1 tsp Caster Sugar, 150g Whole Dried Figs.
To Finish: 200ml Greek Yogurt, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Large Handful Torn Fresh Herbs – Coriander, Dill, Mint.
1) Combine the minced lamb with the other meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands until fully combined. Divide into approximately 15 meatballs.
2) Place a large, heavy based pot (a Le Creuset casserole is perfect) on the stove top over a medium heat. Cook the meatballs in the sunflower oil until well browned all over. Remove from the pot and set aside.
3) Brown the shallots in the oil for around 10 minutes. Turn up the heat, add the wine and let reduce for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat back to medium. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme and caster sugar. Bring to the boil.
4) Add the meatballs and figs to the stock, dispersing amongst the shallots. Ensure there is enough liquid to just about cover the meatballs. Cover and cook for 20 minutes over a very low heat.
5) Cook to cook uncovered over a very low heat for around 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced considerably (by around two thirds).
6) Serve the meatballs with the sauce. Top with a little greek yogurt and generously sprinkle with fresh herbs.