Monday, 10 October 2011

Baked Lamb Meatballs with Feta

Not baked to avoid frying and smugly avoid fat content, these are still fried. They are then cooked in the oven in a rich tomato sauce which I have attempted to infuse with Greekish flavours, and topped with feta and mozzerella. They don't need much by way of accompaniment, just some bread and maybe a green salad. Perhaps a few black olives to nibble on while you wait- although I would be tempted to add them to the sauce if I had them lying about.

For the meatballs:
1kg lamb mince
1/2 red onion, very finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
4 tbsp fine semolina
Olive oil for frying

For the sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 red onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp dried oregano
3 tins chopped tomatoes
175ml white wine
strip of orange zest, plus juice from 1/2 the orange

To finish:
1 ball mozzerella, sliced thinly
150 grams feta

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs together, leave the flavours to mingle while you make the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan, then add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened then add the garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring, then put the cinnamon stick, coriander, oregano and chilli flakes into the pan. After about 30 seconds pour in the tomatoes, squeeze in the orange juice and add the zest. Turn the heat up slightly, and add the white wine. Let it bubble fiercely until the harsh alcohol smell has evaporated. Turn down again, but let it simmer quite hard until you have reduced it to a rich pulpy sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Shape the mince into meatballs about the size of a walnut in its shell. Heat the olive oil for the meatballs in a frying pan. Brown them in batches, removing to a baking dish once well coloured. You may want to drain them of there fat by putting them on kitchen roll first if your lamb is particularly fatty. I think it's quite clear by now that I am not fat-phobic, but there is a balance to be made. Richness and flavour is desirable, but greasiness is not. Pour over the sauce, turning the meatballs gently to cover completely. Sprinkle with the cheeses and bake until golden browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

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