In the freezer there was both ground lamb and ground elk (thanks Parks!) and after Maryanne and Jimmy’s magnificent dueling sauces for our Soprano’s-spaghetti-and-meatball-dinner on Sunday, I was inspired to make meatballs. I do not come from a meatball people, so meatballs are one of those things I come to late. In fact, I’m not much of a ground meat kind of gal, but when you buy (or are given) meat by the animal, you wind up with ground meat.
So, I decided to do meatballs. Because I had lamb in the freezer, and because I made some really yummy stuffed zucchini last fall with lamb and mint and ricotta cheese, I decided I wanted that kind of a flavor. I looked through a couple of cookbooks and wound up back with my old favorite, the always-reliable and sometimes magnificent cookbook by Dom Deluise, Eat This– It’ll Make You Feel Better: Mama’s Italian Home Cooking and Other Favorites of Family and Friends (while building the link I see he has a sequel out — shucks, now I’ll have to order it). This is one of those cookbooks I acquired somewhere in a sale bin, and it turns out to be totally reliable, and everything I’ve ever cooked out of it is delicious.
So, I looked to page 164 and Don’s Mom’s Meatballs:
Instead of 2 pounds ground chuck and 1/2 pound. ground pork, I used 1 pound ground lamb and one pound ground elk
Instead of 2 cups “Italian-flavored” bread crumbs I used plain bread crumbs, and a generous sprinkling each of thyme, sage, herbs de provence, mint and oregano
1 cup milk (I forgot this one — just noticed it now. Oh well, my meatball mix was quite moist)
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheese (I used the end of a piece of Vella Mezzo-Secco, it ground out to a little more than 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves (I used four), chopped very fine
1 onion, minced
1/2 cup pignoli nuts (optional. I used walnuts because I like them better and I thought they’d be good with the lamb and mint)
You mix everything together, let rest for half an hour, then form into meatballs. Brown them in olive oil and then finish in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 an hour. I ate them on pasta with leftover dandelion greens/kale from the night before and a dollop of yoghurt. They were delicious, and there were a lot of them so I froze them in baggies … I think they’ll also be good as a sort of falafel-like dish on pita with cukes and yoghurt, but there’s also not so much mint in them that they won’t be good in tomato sauce. And they’re one of those pantry-type things that are good to have around — I can just pop them out of the freezer on a night when I don’t feel like cooking, and know I’ve got nice local dinner that I cooked myself (not that I’m not grateful to the Albertson’s people for the frozen entrees that sustained me these past months).