Category Archives: Meat

Braised Chicken Thighs with Sauerkraut, Riesling, Apple and Bacon

Braised Chicken with Cabbage

Did I make it in time for the Super Bowl this weekend?! This may not be your typical Super Bowl fare, but I think that it meets the requirements. It’s a one-pot meal and it goes well with beer. What more could you ask for? Oh, bacon you say?… Don’t worry, that’s included too!

One of our favorite neighborhood restaurants in the city is Café D’Alsace. Dishes like charcroute garnie, duck sausage with sauerkraut, and tarte flambee are mainstays on the menu.  It must be cold in Alsace, because the food here is hearty, rich, and meat-heavy. With temperatures barely reaching 20 degrees in New York last week, it’s exactly the sort of food that I was craving.  However, bitterly cold temperatures also make me want to hibernate, so I decided to satisfy both my desire to stay out of the cold with my yearning for sauerkraut.

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Enter chicken braised in sauerkraut! I was so excited to make this recipe, especially after I found large hunks of meaty bacon and sauerkraut at my local German grocer (Schaller & Weber for those of you who live in New York City). I started by slowly sautéing the bacon in a pan, allowing the fat to render out and the bacon to become slightly crispy. I debated pouring some of the fat out of the pan, but there wasn’t too much, and I figured that we could use a little bit of extra blubber to fend off the cold this winter. To the bacon, I added thin slices of sweet onion and a Granny Smith apple, which I slowly caramelized in the pan. After pouring in a hearty amount of Riesling wine, a can of drained mild sauerkraut, shredded fresh red cabbage, juniper berries, thyme, pearl onions and chicken broth, my kitchen smelled like a German beerhouse. As the cabbage braised, I browned boneless chicken thighs, added them to the cabbage, and also baked cookies. That is not a typo, I had made cookie batter the night before and after a proper rest in the refrigerator, (I have heard that is the key to great cookies) I figured why not wait, I had time while my cabbage braised.  Let me just note that my small apartment kitchen now smelled like a cross between an Auntie Anne’s cookie shop and a Bratwurst stand. Weird, sort of like when I stumbled across a café in the West Village a few years ago called New York Hot Dogs & Coffee. Now, dogs and ketchup, dogs and pop, dogs and shakes—those all make sense to me. Dogs and coffee??? Needless to say, when I passed by the same location this summer, New York Dogs & Coffee had sadly closed. I guess even New Yorkers aren’t that adventurous when it comes to combo meals. Now, back to that chicken recipe…

I had to wait for my husband to get home from a cross-country trip to L.A., so my cabbage and chicken braised longer than I had originally intended. And herein lies the benefit of using chicken thighs. Unlike chicken breasts, they don’t easily become dry and overcooked, which is why I recommend using them when you are braising. Even though I cooked my chicken thighs at least 10 minutes longer than necessary, they remained tender and juicy. We ate our chicken and cabbage with homemade crusty bread and a salad dressed in simple vinaigrette, but you could also serve it with mashed potatoes or egg noodles (spaetzle would be great too). I should also note that this recipe is not comfort food in the sense of “I cannot move and must lie on my sofa for the next few hours while I digest”. It is bright and lively thanks to the sauerkraut and wine, and it will definitely warm you up on a cold night. It’s also perfect for a crowd (Super Bowl party anyone?).

Guten Appetit!
Pippa

Braised Chicken Thighs with Sauerkraut, Riesling, Apple and Bacon
Serves 4
Time: 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours, including prep time

  • 6 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ head of a medium-sized red cabbage, core removed and thinly sliced
  • 1, 14-ounce can of mild sauerkraut (I used Hengstenberg Mildessa mild sauerkraut, made with wine), drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium granny smith apple, chopped into small ½ inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup of dry Riesling wine (you can substitute the Riesling for any dry white wine if necessary)
  • 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled (I found fresh, peeled pearl onions in the produce department at my grocery store, but you can omit these if you can’t find them or don’t have time to peel the onions)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1.75 pounds boneless chicken thigh (with skin or without is fine here)
    1. Heat a large, straight-sided sauté pan with a lid (or a braising pot) over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the bacon, and cook until almost all of the fat has rendered out and the bacon is slightly crispy.
    2. Add the onion slices and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onion is soft and caramelized.
    3. Add the apple pieces, and cook for an additional 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
    4. Add the fresh red cabbage and cook for 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is beginning to wilt.
    5. Add the sauerkraut, pearl onions, wine, broth, juniper berries, fresh thyme, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.
    6. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
    7. While the cabbage is simmering, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of canola oil.
    8. Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper and place them in the hot pan, being careful not to over-crowd the chicken (I browned my chicken in 2 batches). Brown the chicken thighs on both sides, about 8 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
    9. Transfer the chicken to a platter or plate until ready to use.
    10. Remove the cover from the pot with the cabbage, add the chicken thighs and nestle them into the cabbage mixture so that they are covered with cabbage.
    11. Cover the pot again and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
    12. Uncover, remove the pot from the heat and serve.
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Linguine with Lemon Cream, Fava Beans & Savoy Cabbage

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I’m back! It’s been a busy 6 months since I last posted. My family survived two weddings, one on each coast (one of them was mine!), and we enjoyed a food-filled Christmas and New Year. After indulging in a few too many (okay, more than just a few) desserts and rich meals over the holidays, I was craving a veggie-heavy (meat-light) dinner this weekend.

I was fixated on making pasta with a lemon cream sauce, and the following recipe is the result. The lemon sauce just barely coats the pasta, almost like Spaghetti alla Carbonara. It tastes slightly decadent, without overpowering the fava beans or the pasta itself. It’s actually more suitable for spring than winter, but with temperatures near 60 degrees this past weekend, it felt appropriate. I’ll be back to make it again when spring eventually does come around in New York!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

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Linguine with Lemon Cream, Fava Beans & Savoy Cabbage
Serves 4-5

Notes: I am lucky enough to live a block away from an Italian specialty grocery store that carries frozen, shelled fava beans, but if you can’t find fava beans you can always substitute them for frozen peas or asparagus. There is a scant amount of pancetta in this pasta, which can be replaced with bacon, or even omitted entirely. Additionally, the sage, basil, and parsley can be swapped out for any number of fresh herbs, but I really enjoyed this combination. Just make sure to use a light hand when it comes to the sage, as it can become overpowering. And finally, cabbage might seem odd in this recipe, but it becomes deliciously sweet after being sautéed with the shallots and cooked in white wine, broth, and cream. Try to find Savoy cabbage if possible, as it has thinner, more delicate leaves.

8 ounces dry linguine
8 ounces fresh or frozen shelled green fava beans (frozen peas can be substituted here)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 ounces pancetta, diced into small ¼ inch cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ head of a medium-sized savoy cabbage, core removed and shredded
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
4 fresh sage leaves, finely minced
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
½ cup fresh basil leaves, finely minced

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
  2. When the water boils, add the fava beans and cook until just tender. Using a slotted spoon or sieve, remove the fava beans and drain. Set aside for later. Bring the water back to a boil for the pasta.
  3. Place a large sauté pan over low heat. Add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive and the pancetta and cook over low to medium heat until the pancetta has rendered its fat and begins to crisp up and caramelize [make sure not to burn the pancetta, but to cook it slowly so that the fat has time to render out]
  4. Add one tablespoon of butter, the minced shallot and garlic, and cook for an additional 5 minutes over low heat, or until the shallot is soft and translucent.
  5. Add the shredded cabbage and increase the heat to medium. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the cabbage begins to wilt.
  6. Add the wine and reduce completely until all of the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Combine the cream and lemon zest in a small measuring cup or bowl and reserve.
  8. Add the chicken broth to the cabbage mixture and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook over medium heat for an additional 10 minutes or until the cabbage is very tender and cooked through.
  9. Add the cooked fava beans and cream and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced slightly.
  10. While the cream sauce is simmering, bring the pot of salted water back to a boil and add the linguine to the boiling water. Stir once to make sure that the pasta does not stick together and then cook according to the instructions on the package until al dente. Reserve a ½ cup of the pasta water and add to the vegetables and cream sauce. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  11. Strain the pasta. Using the same pot in which you cooked the pasta, add one tablespoon of olive oil and the pasta, tossing lightly to combine.
  12. Pour the sauce, fresh herbs, and 1/3 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano into the pot with the linguine and toss well until combined.
  13. Serve immediately with extra Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish and freshly ground black pepper.

Pulled Pork Arepas with Red Cabbage Slaw

For years I have been intrigued by the thought of making my own tortillas, tamales, or arepas, but until now I had never taken the plunge. When I saw this recipe in Food & Wine, I was determined to make it at home as soon as possible. As soon as possible turned into a few months, but I’m not complaining, I’m just happy that I finally achieved my goal. And more importantly, I am happy to report that my first attempt at cooking with masa harina (very finely ground corn flour) was a success! These arepas were delicious, and I can’t wait to make them again and to experiment with the filling, maybe substituting the pork for beans?!

When I initially considered making these arepas, I assumed that I would substitute the pulled pork for shredded chicken (because who, after all, has 6 consecutive hours to cook an entire pork shoulder? And more importantly, how could I possibly fit enough people into my small apartment to eat that entire pork shoulder?). In what was certainly a sign of divine intervention, Fresh Direct was promoting its all-natural Berkshire pulled pork last week. I was hesitant about buying pre-made pork, but after reading that the pork was seasoned simply with just salt and pepper, I was sold. Fortunately, I had purchased a small bag of masa harina from a specialty spice store a few weeks earlier, so with recipe in hand, I went to the grocery store and bought the remaining ingredients for the recipe.

After returning from the grocery store, I tackled my biggest fear—making the arepa dough. Thankfully, this recipe couldn’t be more straightforward, you simply combine the masa harina with a touch of salt and some warm water and then let the dough rest for 15 minutes. However, the challenge is forming the dough into disks without breaking the dough. My first attempt ended in failure, I couldn’t even form a flat circle, let alone stuff the pork inside the arepa. After deciding that my dough must be too wet, I added more masa harina and tried again, this time flattening the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap so that the dough wouldn’t stick to my work surface. This time, I was able to form the disk. I cautiously placed a small amount of pork filling in the center of the disk and than very carefully brought the sides of the dough up around the pork, creating a ball (inside the plastic wrap). Then, I even more carefully flattened the ball with my palm. To my shock and delight, it actually worked! Even though my arepas were very delicate, they didn’t have any gaping holes. I delicately placed each arepa on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and then placed the formed arepas in the refrigerator until dinner.

To cook the arepas, I modified the recipe. I wasn’t keen on frying the arepas, so I sautéed them in a nonstick skillet over high heat with a small amount of canola oil.  After browning both sides, I placed the cooked arepas in the oven to finish cooking. We ate our arepas topped with the red cabbage and red onion slaw suggested by Food & Wine, which added just the right amount of acidity to counterbalance the rich filling. We also garnished our arepas with some sour cream, fresh cilantro, and pickled jalapeños (which I was surprised to discover that I enjoy tremendously!). In the end, it was a fantastic meal. I loved how the soft and sweet masa dough paired with the slightly smoky and spicy pork. Now I just need an excuse to have a fiesta in my small apartment so that I can make them again!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Pulled Pork Arepas with Red Cabbage Slaw
Recipe slightly adapted from Food & Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups masa harina flour (I have heard that Maseca brand is the best)
  • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces cooked pulled pork (or chicken if that is what you have on hand)
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallion (green parts only)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • hot sauce to taste (I used Frank’s hot sauce)
  • 2 cups finely sliced red cabbage
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Vegetable oil (for sautéing)
  • Sliced picked jalapeños, sour cream (low fat or regular), fresh cilantro

Instructions:

  1. Combine the masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and combine well until the mixture forms a soft dough. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  2. While the dough is resting, combine the pulled pork, cheddar, hot sauce, scallions, and cilantro in a bowl.
  3. After the dough has rested for 15 minutes, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil and set aside. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface or cutting board. Place a quarter of the dough on the plastic wrap and form a small ball with the dough. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough and press down with your palm to form a 7-inch disk. Place about a third of a cup of the pork filling in the center of the disk. Carefully pull up the sides of the disk to form a ball around the filling, keeping the plastic wrap in place. Gently press down to form a 4-5 inch disk. Place the formed arepa on the sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Repeat three more times to form four arepas. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  4. At least 30 minutes before you plan to serve the arepas, combine the red cabbage, red onion, and red wine vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt to taste. Cover until ready to serve.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place a medium-size nonstick skillet over high heat.
  6. Add a tablespoon or two of canola oil to the pan and swirl to coat the surface of the pan with oil. Place two of the arepas (seam side down) in the pan and sauté over high heat, flipping once, until both sides are a nice golden brown color.
  7. Place in the oven to finish cooking for approximately 5 minutes. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to cook the remaining two arepas.
  8. Serve with slaw and additional garnish as desired.

Turkish Borek Meat Filling

Happy New Year! 2011 has been an eventful and fun year, but I am even more excited for 2012.  I ended the year with a great recipe that I want to share with you, and it was inspired by my recent trip to Turkey. Brian and I ate our weight in eggplant and yogurt during our trip (thankfully two of my favorite foods), but we were also were lucky enough to try many traditional Turkish meze, including borek. Cigar borek are thin cigar-shaped pastries made with phyllo dough and stuffed with either meat or cheese. We tried both types in Turkey, but I was particularly enamored with the meat borek, which were filled with wonderful spices and herbs. In fact, they were so flavorful that I often could only identify a few of the spices that the meat had been cooked with. Upon my return to New York, I immediately began searching the Internet and cookbooks, hoping to find the secret to Turkish borek. As luck would have it, I found a wonderful cookbook at work (I am lucky enough to work for a food magazine that has an entire library of cookbooks!) with exactly what I was looking for. A few weeks later I was invited to a housewarming party and decided to test out the recipe that I had found. I made meat borek, but substituted the phyllo dough for puff pastry in the absence of the former. I slightly (okay, massively) overestimated how much filling I needed, and ended up with an entire quart of leftover meat. Absolutely horrified at the idea of wasting it, but not keen on eating small hors d’oeuvres for dinner, I decided to “repurpose” it (a scary term, as repurposing can often have quite negative outcomes in the kitchen!). For our Sunday dinner, I made moussaka, another Mediterranean dish that is traditionally made by layering eggplant (what else!), lamb, béchamel sauce, and potatoes in a casserole dish. Okay, I simplified that a wee bit, but that is the gist of it anyway.

My moussaka was surprisingly made with an olive oil-based béchamel sauce that I found in Jeannette Seaver’s cookbook, My New Mediterranean Cookbook. I was delighted to discover that it tasted great, and will certainly use it in the future. I also cheated a bit by cooking diced eggplant in canned tomatoes instead of thinly slicing the eggplant and broiling it, which would have taken far too long. After I had made each component of the moussaka, I carefully layered thinly sliced potatoes, the eggplant mixture, leftover borek filling, and béchamel in a casserole dish and baked it for 35 minutes. My only complaint is that the leftovers didn’t last long!

I am leaving you with the recipe that I adapted to make my borek and moussaka.  It is so good that I will likely bore my friends by serving it at every cocktail party and potluck dinner from here on out. There are so many ways in which this spiced meat mixture could be used, including in lasagna, meatballs, turnovers, etc. etc. If you find a creative way of using it, please let me know, as it is already one of my favorite recipes for 2012!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Turkish Borek Meat Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ yellow or red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • a tiny pinch of ground clove
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 lb. minced beef or lamb (I actually used beef, but lamb is more popular in Turkey)
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ cup dried currants
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the onion, jalapeño, garlic and bell pepper in a good processor and pulse until the mixture is almost a paste but still slightly chunky.
  2. Heat olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper mixture and sauté until the mixture begins to brown slightly.
  3. Add the cumin, oregano, cinnamon, clove, paprika, and tomato paste and continue to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until very fragrant.
  4. Add the beef, currants and pine nuts and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes over low heat.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add all of the chopped parsley.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Allow to cool and refrigerate, or use in lasagna, moussaka, phyllo cigars, etc.

Red Wine Braised Beef with Fall Vegetables

The smell of red wine, onions, and fresh rosemary and thyme permeated our entire apartment last weekend.  It made us hungry well before we were ready to have dinner. By the time that our braised beef was finished, we were almost famished, eager to dig in to the tender meat, root vegetables, and rustic mashed potatoes made from creamy German butterball potatoes bought that morning from the farmers market.

I am ashamed to admit that it has been far too long since I ventured downtown to the Union Square Greenmarket. The fall is actually my favorite season to visit the farmers market. I love the gourds, pumpkins, root vegetables, and apples that are prominently displayed. It inspires me to cook, and to be creative in the kitchen. In the summer I shy away from making complicated dishes, preferring to make simple dishes that allow the flavor of the vegetables and fruits to take center stage. In the fall and winter, I want to make stews, braises, and French sauces, recipes that allow me to build layer upon layer of flavor.

The following recipe is certainly not groundbreaking; it is rustic and uncomplicated, definitely suitable for a Sunday dinner on a cold evening. The ingredients that we bought from the farmers market are what stood out and made this delicious. At one stand we found baby carrots with their green tops still intact; at another, we found celery root, fresh rosemary, thyme, and small cipollini onions in various colors. My favorite purchase was a bag of German butterball potatoes, which cost a small fortune, but made up for it in flavor. After eating feather-light gnocchi made out of German butterballs at an Italian restaurant earlier in the week, I knew that they would make delicious mashed potatoes, and I was right. In addition to the vegetables and herbs, we also found grass-fed beef that I later cut into cubes.

The steps involved in this recipe are not difficult, but they do require some patience. You don’t want to rush the browning process of the meat, nor do you want to skip sweating the onions and garlic, which is necessary in order to develop a complex braising liquid that is rich and flavorful. There are many ways in which you could modify this recipe. For example, you could use turnips instead of celery root. There is a good deal of red wine involved here, so I recommend using an inexpensive wine that you enjoy drinking, because it will make a difference.  Now let’s get to the recipe!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Red Wine Braised Beef with Fall Vegetables
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lbs. grass-fed stew beef, cut into cubes (beef chuck is ideal here)
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil (for browning the beef)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cognac (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 bunch of baby carrots, peeled and trimmed, and left whole
  • 18 cippolini onions (3 per person), peeled and trimmed, and left whole
  • 1 head of celery root, peeled and cut into 1½ inch cubes
  • ½ to ¾ of a bottle of red wine (I used a Bordeaux)
  •  2 cups of beef broth
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Instructions:

  1. Place a large cast-iron pot (or any oven-safe pot with a lid) over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the canola oil and the cubed beef and brown the beef on all sides. Once the beef is well browned, remove it from the pan and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the onion, celery, and garlic. Sweat over low heat until translucent.
  4. Add the tomato and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add all of the cognac. Allow the cognac to reduce by ¾ and then add the tomato paste. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the flour and browned meat and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add enough wine to come up to ¾ of the height of the vegetables and then add enough beef broth to just cover the vegetables and meat.
  8. Add the rosemary, thyme, carrots, cippolini onions, and celery root. Season with a few turns of fresh ground black pepper.
  9. Allow the liquid to come to a simmer and then cover the pot and place it in the oven for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  10. When the meat is tender, remove the braise from the oven. Using a ladle, ladle out 5 to 6 cups of the braising liquid (without any meat or vegetables) into a wide, shallow sauté pan with sloping sides.
  11. Place the braising liquid on the stove over high heat and reduce until the braising liquid is nappant (meaning that it coats the back of a spoon).

To Serve:

Ladle a portion of meat and vegetables onto a plate and spoon some of the reduced braising liquid over the meat and vegetables. Serve with homemade mashed potatoes.

Lamb Meatballs with Heirloom Tomato Farro Salad

I have to start by pointing out that these are some of the best meatballs that I have ever tasted, let alone made from scratch.  It all started with some lamb that had been taunting me in my freezer every time that I went out to buy groceries.  I knew that I should use it, but I still wasn’t quite ready to eat lamb. You see, in April, while I was still in culinary school, there were two consecutive days where I single handedly broke down and trimmed approximately 50 pounds of fresh lamb.  In addition to butchering lamb, I had been eating lamb in every shape and form over the past few weeks—braised, grilled, sous vide, ground into sausages—the list goes on.  I was at my saturation point when we were asked by the chefs if we wanted to take some leftover meat home to cook.  I immediately balked at the thought.  However, after debating the merits of taking or leaving the lamb, I cautiously accepted a small piece of top round (which comes from the leg and is very tender), hoping that my hunger for lamb might come back in the future weeks or months.

It is now August and I finally pulled that forgotten piece of lamb out of my freezer this weekend.  After considering a number of different recipes, I settled upon making meatballs.  My first order of business was grating an onion.  I wanted the flavor of the onion, but I didn’t want to find any pesky, uncooked pieces of onion in my finished meatballs.  I conjured up some mint (leftover from this recipe), parsley, feta, and a number of dried spices and herbs.  I knew that I needed something to bind the mixture, so I looked up the meatball ratio that I had been given in school (1 pound of meat to 1 egg to a 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs).  After grinding my lamb in the food processor (which works very well, I recommend it), I put everything into a large bowl and dug in with my hands.

I very nearly skipped the next step in this recipe, the testing step.  I may love to spend hours in the kitchen, but I am also, regrettably, impatient.  There is no way to test meatballs for seasoning while the mixture is raw (well, there is a way but the health risks deter me from attempting it), so you must cook a small portion of the mixture before you form meatballs.  I could imagine the chefs at culinary school reprimanding me for not properly tasting my food, so I conceded, and cooked a small spoonful in a skillet.  It turned out that the mixture was perfectly seasoned. I also discovered that miniature meatballs make a perfect mid-recipe snack.

When it comes to cooking meatballs, you have a few options. You can pan fry them in oil in a saute pan, bake them with or without a sauce in the oven, or do a combination of both. I chose the latter.  I first browned the meatballs in a very small amount of oil to achieve caramelization and a boost of flavor, and then placed them in the oven to finish cooking.  The result?  A tender and incredibly satisfying meatball.  The sweet and savory flavor of the lamb hits you first, followed by the smokiness of the cumin and saltiness of the feta, and at the end, you detect the subtle flavors of the mint and parsley.  Paired with some yogurt sauce and the farro salad below, these meatballs are the perfect late summer meal.  And if you stop yourself from eating the whole batch in one sitting, you can make yourself a delicious pita sandwich for lunch later in the week.

Happy Cooking,

Pippa



Lamb Meatballs with Warm Heirloom Tomato Farro Salad

(Serves 6)

Ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 2 lbs. ground lamb
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko, but any type is fine)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, grated on a cheese grater
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of kosher salt (if using table salt, reduce the amount to 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Extra virgin olive oil (for searing the meatballs)

Instructions for the meatballs:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and using your hands mix everything together until all of the ingredients are evenly dispersed.
  2. Form a small meatball using 1 tablespoon of the mixture and cook the meatball in a small skillet over medium-high heat in olive oil until fully cooked. This step is important, as it allows you to test the meatball and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  3. Shape the remaining meat mixture into 2-inch wide meatballs.  You should get about 25 meatballs total.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F and brush or spray a baking sheet with olive oil.
  5. Heat a large sauté pan and over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and sear the meatballs on all sides, working in batches.
  6. Place the seared meatballs on the baking sheet and place them in the oven for 15 minutes, or until fully cooked.

Ingredients for the farro salad:

  • 1½ cups semi-pearled farro
  • ½ medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions for the farro salad:

  1. Cook farro according to the instructions on the package.
  2. While the farro is cooking, combine the tomato, parsley, red onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. When the farro is cooked, drain it and add it to the tomato mixture.
  4. Combine all of the ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve warm or cold.