Makes about 16 medium sized meatballs or 24 Small meatballs
Here in Minnesota the “Juicy Lucy,” a burger filled with a molten cheese center, is all the rage! In this recipe I have taken the Juicy Lucy and turned it into a Lamb and Feta Cheese meatball appetizer! Opa!
1 lb. Ground Lamb
½ cup Whole or 2% Milk
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Cumin
Juice of 2 Lemons; Zest from 1 Lemon
1/3 cup Fresh Mint, finely chopped
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1 cup of Olive Oil
2 oz. of Chunk Feta cut into 1/4 squares (yields about 16 – 24 Cubes of Cheese)
2 Slices White Bread (Like Italian white)
1 Small Yellow Onion, grated
1 Egg, beaten
1 ½ tsp. Oregano
1 ¼ cup Dry White Wine
½ cup Chicken Stock
1 ½ tsp. Salt
¼ cup Flour
1 Bay Leaf
Fresh Parsley (optional)
Put It All Together
1. Tear Bread into chunks, place in a bowl and pour Milk over it, soak. After 5 minutes, use your hands to squeeze all of the liquid out of the Bread. Keep the Bread and discard the Milk.
2. Make the Meatball Mix: In a medium bowl combine: Ground Lamb, Bread, Onion, Garlic, Egg, Cumin, Oregano, Juice from 1 Lemon, Lemon Zest, 1/4 cup of Wine, Salt, Pepper and Mint. Using your hands, mix it all together for a full minute. Once combined cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the Meatball mix in the refrigerator for as little as 1 hour; or as many as 8 hours.
3. Prepare The Meatballs: Remove meat from fridge and shape into palm sized patties. With your finger make a little well in the center and place one Feta Cube in the well. Shape the Meat around the Cheese, making a meatball that is roughly the size of a golf ball. Repeat this process with all of the Meatball mixture. Next, create a Meatball dredging assembly line. On the first plate sprinkle the Flour and season with Salt and Pepper, the second plate will remain vacant, you will put your Flour dredged Meatballs here. Roll each ball in the seasoned Flour, tap off any excess Flour and place on the clean plate. Repeat this procedure until all of the Meatballs are coated in Flour.
4. Using a heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven, heat the Olive Oil over medium-high heat, it is ready when it is glistening like waves. Add the Meatballs, cooking for 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon turn the Meatballs throughout the cooking process, browning all sides evenly. Remove the Meatballs one at a time and place on a paper towel lined plate, soaking up the excess oil.
5. Pour most of the Olive Oil out of the pot, leaving in about 2 tbsp. Turn the burner to high heat and pour in the remaining White Wine. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the bottom of the pot, scrapping up all of the flavor bits that are stuck to the bottom. After one minute add the Chicken Stock, the remaining Lemon Juice and the Bay Leaf and bring it to a boil. After one minute turn the heat down, bringing the liquid to a simmer. Add the Meatballs and cover the pot. Simmer the Meatballs for 20 minutes, basting occasionally with the Lemon-White Wine Sauce. After 20 minutes check to make sure the Meatballs are cooked all the way through, and, taste the sauce for salt and pepper, adjust here if necessary.
6. These Meatballs can be served right away, although, they may be prepared several hours in advance and left to cool at room temperature, this is how the Greeks would eat them! When you are ready to serve, mound the Meatballs in a serving dish and drown them in a deep pool of lemony sauce, or take a rustic approach by serving them straight out of the pot! Sprinkle with fresh Parsley and serve with crusty Bread for dipping in the sauce!
Serve these Greek Tapas along with other Greek Treats like Kalamata Olives, Tzatziki, and of course, more Cheese!