Wherever they’re from … they’re good
I think just about every cuisine has a meatball recipe — albóndigas (Spain), koftë (Turkey), polpette (Italy), frikadeller (Finland), bakso (Indonesia), gehaktbal (Netherlands), bola-bola (Philippines), Fleischlaibchen (Austria), köttbullar (Sweden), faggot (UK, seriously), pulpety (Poland), just to name a few.
My favorite ball of meat is the koftë – those wonderful spice- and herb-filled delights that hit the spot every time. While my favorite method of cooking koftë is to grill them, I live in Wisconsin so the grilling season is a short one and I want these puppies all year round. Because of this, I have come up with a baked version that, while lacking in that glorious charred exterior, is still juicy and flavorful.
I serve them with a lemon-scented, herb-flecked Greek yogurt sauce, grilled/roasted veggies (asparagus; Juliette tomatoes – can’t wait till they are in season; zucchini; eggplant, etc.) or some crisp cucumbers, and grilled naan or pita. I could eat about 20 of them, but I restrain myself to about six or eight. Here’s the recipe:
Serve 4-6 adults
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (preferably whole-milk, but 2% would suffice)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Juice from ½ a lemon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ freshly ground pepper
1 cup firm white bread, torn into small pieces
1 small onion (about 1 cup)
¼ cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 lb ground lamb (from shoulder) – ground chuck or turkey thigh work well, too.
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (I've also used pistachios)
Special equipment: If grilling, you will need 6 wooden skewers, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes or 6 metal skewers (no soaking needed).
Stir together yogurt, mint, cilantro, garlic, lemon zest and juice and salt in a small bowl and chill.
Cover bread with water in a bowl and soak 15 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of bread to remove as much excess water as possible, and then transfer to a bowl.
Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal or preheat oven to 425 degrees.