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Moroccan-Style Meatballs

Moroccan-Style Meatballs
Although these meatballs are not a traditional dish of Morocco, the presence of mint, parsley, cinnamon and cumin gives them a strong North African accent. Use a light hand when forming the balls, just as you would when shaping a hamburger patty. A gentle touch ensures that the meat is not compacted or overheated by contact with your hands, resulting in light, tender mouthfuls.

If doubling this recipe, use only 1 1/2 times the amount of salt, not double the amount.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed through a press
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
      leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves,
      finely chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 2 Tbs. fine dried bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more,
      to taste
  • Lemon wedges for squeezing and garnish
  • About 42 cocktail picks (optional)

Directions:

Lightly oil a shallow-rimmed baking sheet.

In a fry pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Add the lamb, garlic, eggs, parsley, chopped mint, bread crumbs, cumin, cinnamon, the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper to the bowl with the onion. Combine the ingredients thoroughly with your hands (the only way to evenly distribute the ingredients). Fry a small pinch of the mixture, taste, and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into balls about the size of a walnut, rolling them very lightly in the palms of your hands. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

Preheat a broiler. Place the meatballs about 4 inches from the heat source and broil, turning once with tongs, until brown and crispy on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove the baking sheet from the broiler and transfer the meatballs to a platter.

Squeeze some lemon juice over the meatballs and arrange the remaining lemon wedges and mint sprigs on the platter. Using a cocktail pick, skewer each meatball. Serve immediately. Makes about 42 warm bites.

Note: The meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before cooking. Remove them from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking. If desired, cook and cool the meatballs, refrigerate them for up to 4 hours, and then reheat in a 350°F oven until heated through, 10 to 20 minutes.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Hors d'Oeuvre, by Brigit L. Binns (Simon & Schuster, 2001).