Mint, cumin, paprika, grated onion, and tender ground lamb make easy and super flavorful meatballs. The cayenne is completely optional, but those who like more intense flavors will appreciate its gentle presence; it doesn't make these meatballs spicy, it just adds a bit of extra je ne sais quoi. Proper browning is the most important element of these meatballs, so be sure to cook them in a single, spacious layer, working in batches, if necessary.
- 1 1/2 pound ground lamb*
- 1 small onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
- 2 Tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- Vegetable or canola oil for cooking
In a large bowl, break up the ground lamb into small pieces. Trim the root end of the onion, cut it in half, and remove and discard the peels. Using a large hole grater, grate the onion over the lamb.
Mince the garlic and add it to lamb, too. Mince the mint and add it to lamb. Use your fingers to gently mix the onion, mint, and lamb together. Sprinkle the mixture with the paprika, cumin, salt, and cayenne, if using, and, again, use your fingers to gently but thoroughly mix the ingredients.
Roll the mixture into meatballs, about 2 tablespoons at a time. To keep them tender, avoid over-handling them, simply patting and gently rolling them into balls, not squishing them. Put the formed meatballs on a platter or baking sheet. Having trouble with the mixture sticking to your hands? Here's a tip: Damp hands will help keep the meat from sticking.
Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, swirl the oil to spread it over cooking surface, and add as many meatballs as fit in a single layer without touching (this is key to getting the meatballs to brown properly). Cook, turning to brown all sides, until the meatballs are cooked through, about 8 minutes total. If you need to work in batches, transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet and keep them warm in a 200°F oven while you cook the remaining meatballs.
* No ground lamb at your meat counter? If a butcher is around, you can always ask them to ground some up for you. If that's not an option, buy lamb shoulder, boneless leg of lamb, or lamb stew meat and grind it yourself!