Although summer’s end is palpable, I’m not quite ready to give up. My weekend plans include one last cannonball into the pool and at least one more cookout with friends.
After, I’ll be ready for cooler weather, socks, and decorative gourds. In the kitchen, I’ve already started turning toward fall. It began with my annual tomato canning session, but has continued into stews and roasted vegetables, sauces and stocks. I’ve been making all the classics, but with the twist of freshly ground spices, aromatics aplenty, fresh herbs, and lots of citrus.
Along those lines, these savory lamb meatballs are everything I’m craving as we head into crisp autumn days. I made the meatballs first; folding Progresso’s airy Plain Panko Crispy Breadcrumbs, freshly ground spices, orange, and mint into the ground lamb. I seared them, poured off most of the fat, and then made a rich tomato sauce with orange juice, zest, and spices. I tucked the meatballs into the sauce, simmered until the whole house smelled like heaven, and topped it all off with fresh mint and crumbled feta.
This dish can be served over bulgur or couscous, or with pita. We happened to have a loaf of sourdough on hand and tore off hunks to accompany ours.
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- 1 medium red onion, finely minced
- 1 cup Progresso Plain Panko Crispy Breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 2 tablespoons minced mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- zest of 1 orange plus 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta, for garnish
- 1/4 cup chopped mint, for garnish
To make the meatballs, set out a medium-sized rimmed baking sheet and a couple paper towels. In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to mix together lamb, onion, Progresso Plain Panko Crispy Breadcrumbs, egg, sea salt, spices, zest, and mint. Roll mixture into 2-inch meatballs; set on baking sheet. (Wipe hands on paper towels as needed.) You should have 30 or so meatballs total.
Clean the rimmed baking sheet, dry, and line with fresh paper towels.
Set the largest, deepest skillet you have over medium-high heat (at least 9-inches wide and 2-inches deep). Add the oil, and when it's hot and shimmering, add 8 - 10 meatballs, and cook, turning every 1 - 2 minutes, until seared all over (10 - 12 minutes total). During cook time, adjust heat as needed so oil doesn't smoke. If things get too hot, take pan off the burner until things settle. Remove cooked meatballs to paper towel lined baking sheet.
To make the tomato sauce, pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil. With heat still on medium-high, and add the onion, cumin, and cayenne. Cook until onions are tender, about 7 minutes. Fold in the tomatoes, orange zest and juice, cinnamon stick, and sea salt. Bring to a gentle boil, turn heat to low, and tuck meatballs into the sauce. (If you have more meatballs than your pan can accommodate, have a snack!) Simmer meatballs in sauce 20 minutes. Taste, and add sea salt as needed.
Garnish meatballs with 1/4 cup crumbled feta and mint leaves. Serve with bulgur, couscous, pita, or sourdough.
This post is sponsored by Progresso. Thanks for supporting the brands that make BkS possible!