One of the delights of working in the food business is the wide variety of folks you meet; dedicated farmers, steadfast fishers, enthusiastic foragers, and adventuresome eaters. When I had a restaurant and catering company in Bangor, one of the most memorable meals I cooked was a dinner for the Physicians for Social Responsibility hosted by Stephen and Tabitha King.
Tabby is a thoughtful and talented cook, and for this event, I followed her lead. She researched the menu, helped with the recipes, and insisted upon using local foods. Her knowledge of cuisines, tastes and textures is unparalleled, and she helped me navigate the protocols of international entertaining.
Lamb was the featured carnivore selection, because as Tabby explained to me, sheep or lamb meat is one of the most easily digested and widely accepted in the world, particularly if it is grass fed. In Australia, roast leg of lamb is the national dish. In Greece, Turkey, North Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, Iceland, Spain and all parts of the United Kingdom, sheep meat is an integral component of many meals, including religious feasts.
Here in Maine, we are fortunate to have several sheep farmers, with products available at local markets and food coops, health food stores, farmers markets, and directly from the farm. We purchase two lambs for the freezer every fall from Happy Town Farm in Orland. North Star Sheep Farm in Windham is nationally recognized for their sheep farm operations, or check out Salt Run Farm in Penobscot and Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham.
Ground lamb is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with. The flavor is rich and hearty, perfect for a savory, grilled burger. Ground lamb is also an ideal complement to other meats (like venison or moose) in recipes for meatballs. Spicy Lamb Meatballs easily adapts to many ground meats, but venison is my favorite. These tasty treats are delicious with a pesto or mint-yogurt sauce, and shine in a tomato-based sauce. Enjoy as cocktail fare, and freeze them for a quick and easy supper.
SPICY LAMB MEATBALLS
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Sea salt
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 pound ground venison beef, turkey or chicken
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large bowl, add the breadcrumbs, eggs, ground cumin, red pepper flakes and ground turmeric.
- Finely chop the fresh parsley and garlic cloves. Add the chopped fresh parsley, garlic, sea salt and olive oil to the bowl. Mix well.
- Add the ground lamb and venison to the bowl. Mix well so that all ingredients are well incorporated.
- Scoop the mixture out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, 20 scoops per pan. Gently roll into balls. They should be about the size of golf balls, about 1-½ inches in diameter.
- Bake until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, about 10 – 15 minutes.
Nutritional analysis per meatball: 89 calories, 5 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat, 135 mg. sodium, less than 1 gram fiber.