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Video: Make smoky lamb meatballs and more

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    >>> your dinner tonight, you bring the flavors of the world to your table.

    >> she has done the traveling for you and she is the author of the new book exotic table.

    >> thank you for having me.

    >> you travel a ton.

    >> yes, i do.

    >> you find spices and flavors from all over the world. what are some of your favorites recently?

    >> i love places where there's a bunch of different cultures that have come together. peru, i was in lima which was amazing. turkey. i kind of went all over. istanbul and south africa .

    >> what's great here is you have taken the flavors and brought them together in something recognizable so our kids will eat it.

    >> that's what the book is about. global influences on every day food. this is how i cook at home based on my multicultural heritage. my husbands. my travels and it's about familiar foods.

    >> yeah.

    >> get in here and tell us about this.

    >> so this is a couple of pounds of ground lamb we have at room temperature . always start with room temperature so it cooks all the way through. and we have shallots that have been cooked with garlic.

    >> can you replace this with beef or chicken if you wanted to?

    >> you can replace it with your favorite ground meat . we have egg yolk we'll add in there and bread crumbs but it's really the spice blend that gives it all of the flavor. and there's a couple of spices that add smokiness. spanish paprika and then we have a little bit of heat from chili pepper and black pepper as well.

    >> can people find them readily or do you have to look far to find the more exotic ones.

    >> you can find most of them. you might only find the green kind in your regular grocer which you can substitute.

    >> we're going to do it gingerly because meat can toughen up if you work it too much. so you just want to do kind of a claw-like thing and just fold it all together basically.

    >> all right. i'll give you that. you're going to scoop it.

    >> but these are smaller meatballs. it cooks quicker. these are great for cocktail parties but you can also make some pattys or burger and throw it in the freezer.

    >> you're putting these on parchment paper.

    >> yes, keep them there before you throw them in the pan. we have these here are browning up and that's real the first step. we're going to just brown them for a few minutes to just get color on them and throw them in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

    >> do you mind if we taste?

    >> oh, yeah.

    >> pair it up and make a nice salad and you have a great meal.

    >> exactly.

    >> thank you so much. they're so good that i can't even finish my sentence. great to see you.

    >> great to see you.

    >> the recipes are at today.com.

TODAY recipes
updated 11/7/2013 2:44:00 PM ET 2013-11-07T19:44:00

Recipe: Smoky lamb meatballs

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra to coat pan
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds ground lamb, room temperature
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons ground black cardamom (see sidebar)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt

These meatballs prep up pretty quickly and make an easy weeknight meal (especially if you freeze them), paired with some salad, sautéed greens, or even a garlic and olive oil pasta. I use two secret ingredients here to achieve smokiness. The first, black cardamom, is used throughout North and East African cooking, in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, and even in Sichuan cooking. It has a darker, woodsier flavor than green cardamom and pairs beautifully with lamb. The other, smoked Spanish paprika, is a staple in my spice pantry—it imparts great smokiness without heat. Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the foam subsides, add the shallot and garlic and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots are translucent. Set aside to cool.

To a large mixing bowl, add the ground lamb and make a well in the center. Add the cooled shallot/garlic mixture and the rest of the ingredients. Carefully mix to ensure even distribution. I like to make a claw with my hands and fold over the meat mixture repeatedly. You don't want to mash or overmix because it will make the meatballs tough.

Using wet hands, roll even-sized pieces of the mixture into balls. I make my meatballs about 1¼" in diameter, so if you make yours larger or smaller, adjust the cooking time appropriately.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and place meatballs into the pan. These brown pretty quickly, so I cook for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Work in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan (you want browned meatballs, not steamed), and place browned meatballs in a baking dish.

Once all the meatballs have been browned, cover the baking dish with foil and place it in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through, firm, but tender.

Serve warm alongside your favorite dipping sauce.

Serving Size

Serves 6-8 (yields 60 1¼-inch meatballs)

Recipe: Israeli couscous salad with lemon, fennel, and basil

  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 2 cups raw Israeli couscous
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 fennel bulb, shaved thin, fronds reserved
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • Small handful of basil, hand-torn
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To cook the couscous, bring the vegetable stock or water up to a boil over high heat. Season with salt, add the couscous, cover, and bring back up to a boil. When it comes up to a strong boil, remove from the heat and let sit covered 8 to 10 minutes, until the couscous has absorbed all of the water. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and fluff with a fork. Cool completely.

To the cooled couscous, add the shaved fennel along with 2 tablespoons of chopped fennel fronds, the minced shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, and torn basil. Drizzle a bit of extra-virgin olive oil on top and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix, taste, and adjust seasoning, including the lemon juice.

Chill before serving.

Serving Size

Serves 6-8

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