Friday, January 7, 2011

Little Lamb Meatballs in a Spicy Eggplant Tomato Sauce – Please Come Out with Your Hands and Forks Up

There's one thing I learned a long time ago; if you add a little cinnamon to a savory recipe, you are allowed to describe it as "exotic." That's just the way it works. And really, who doesn't need a little more "exotic" in their lives?

As far as the easy part, well, that is a more relative term. There are no difficult techniques here, and after cutting up an eggplant and onion, most of your prep is done. The only step that one would describe as "not easy," would be the shaping of all those little meatballs.

Eating little lamb meatballs is fun, but it does take a while to portion them out
. Happily, I've included a top-secret restaurant trick for making lots of small meatballs very quickly, by using your hand as a sort of extruding device. Spoiler alert: it's pretty vulgar (but highly efficient).
By the way, this lamb meatballs recipe video was done as part of a special feature my friends over at The Daily Meal are doing. Once a week they have something called "Recipe SWAT Team," where they tackle a new ingredient with one goal in mind: creating easy and delicious dishes.

This week it was "Recipe SWAT Team: Meatballs," and I was asked to throw on my bullet-proof vest, grow a mustache to look more like a cop, and bust through the door both barrels blazing. You can check out the entire feature here, and see some other great meatball recipes.

I hope you give this delicious lamb and eggplant recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

For the sauce:
1 eggplant, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup minced onion
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup marinara sauce
1½ cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chiffonade
For meatballs:
1 large egg
1½ tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
4 cloves finely minced garlic
¼ cup finely minced onions
1 pound ground lamb

View the complete recipe


Anonymous said...


Travis said...

LOVE the secret small meatball method! I know I will have wayy to much fun making those mini meaty balls.

Anonymous said...

I like lamb too and this looks like a yummy recipe. Why to you cut the skin off the eggplant? Is it for appearance or taste?

Razors Edge said...

Thank you Chef John!

Rita said...

thanks for the small secrets ;)

Paul D said...

Beautiful - I'm a fan of anything that incorporates eggplant into tomato sauce. I tried this Moroccan style recently...good stuff. I used that vegetarian ground beef - it's not bad.

Fawn Nicole said...

I am making this right now!!! I did the Pork Diablo two weeks ago but used a turkey loin instead, I do not eat pork.

Can't wait for this to be done!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to try the meatballs. How about the rice pilaf? How do you make that?
-Jesse from Detroit

Meade-SF said...

This looks incredible. Thanks for the squeeze trick. For those of us trying to learn to cook, the tricks and basics really help. Love the cinnamon in your recipes. Grew up in upstate NY (Olean) within a Lebanese cooking household, so the lamb and cinnamon smell like home! Thanks again.

Unknown said...

I made the eggplant and tomato sauce yesterday and paired it with some store-bought turkey meatballs that I had on hand. The sauce was absolutely fabulous, and I'm sure could be paired successfully with other proteins as well. This will definitely be a regular on my table. Thanks Chef John for your tips. The production of your videos and narration are top-notch!

Luna said...

I made this dish last week. It was huge hit. I loved the lamb meatballs and I'm so happy I have another use for eggplant now (I used to just barbecue it). The only thing I changed is the marinara sauce, which I substituted for half a can of diced tomatoes, chopped up. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Have to try this recipe because I love lamb and make meatballs out of it all the time. I am absolutely loving going through your blog and watching your videos on youtube. You were born to teach food :)

John said...

Sauce came out wonderful. The lamb had a bit too much cumin for my tastes. Definatly something i will try again, with some minor alterations.

Jessica said...

What a fantastic recipe! Just made this yesterday, along with your seasonal vegetable couscous recipe. Delicious! Love the hint of spice and the complexity of flavors in the sauce and the meatballs. Thank you Chef John!

Prachi said...

I roasted the eggplants on an open flame, whole. Then peeled the charred skin off and used the cooked insides to make the sauce. Amazing smoky flavor that went so beautifully with the lamb!

Jules said...

I got around to making this last night for myself and guests - and I have to thank you for this fantastic recipe!! Everyone loved it! I followed it to a T, and it was lacking absolutely nothing. The meat balls were SO delicious, and the sauce - wow. So happy to have found this site!! <3

Bowdoinhamcook said...

I used my own canned tomatoes instead of the marina (cooked down a bit) and needed a little more than recipe called for but the sauce and meatballs were superbly toothsome! I also did not simmer meatballs & sauce as long (had to get it on the table pronto) but it was still good. Had lots left over to put in freezer. Will probably be even better second time around.

Unknown said...

You need to fix your link for this recipe. I made this a few years ago and it was delish, so although I had printed it out, the print was so small that now, in my dotage, I can hardly read it. So I came here, watched the video again, clicked on the link and started my recipe. 1/2 c. milk & 1/2 c. crumbs do not a slurry make. So trying to figure out what went wrong... well long story short - the link takes you to your recipe for lamb meatballs & sauce - it is different, you must admit! It is the one with your bouncing meatballs - LOL. So please fix your link so others don't sit and look at a clog of crumbs & milk and wonder what to do with it. BTW just took the spicy meatballs out of the oven and woofed down 4 of them (I fully cooked them as my sauce is in the fridge and I will be freezing them all). Yum - delish - and many other kudos to you (but just fix the link.. please).