Oh my gosh, these are the best meatballs ever!!! They’re a Nigella Lawson recipe and every time I make them only about half of the recipe actually makes it to the table. *Ahem* They are so addicting! And the meatballs are tiny, so my kids just love them! The original recipe calls for lamb, and while I think they’re spectacular, my little kids are less than thrilled. So I substitute lean ground beef. They also have semolina flour in them, which gives them a really good, interesting texture. So, so yummy!
I made them while my mom was visiting last time and she suggested baking them instead of frying them. I was skeptical, but except for losing their shape a bit and lacking that slight bit of crunch to the outside, they turned out pretty good! And much less fattening – not that I care too much about that ;)
You can freeze these meatballs ahead of time, and they make a great party appetizer! I usually serve them for dinner along side a big dish of rice, some roasted veggies and my favorite cheese bread. They’ve made it onto my list of Top Five Dinners of All Time, even! Just another note, if you’re going to be standing around rolling tiny meatballs, you may as well do a ton and freeze what you aren’t going to immediately eat! I usually triple this recipe.
Exotic Tiny Meatballs
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Feast
1 pound lean ground beef (or lamb)
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
1 teaspoon ginger, grated or finely minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons semolina flour
vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, place the ground meat, scallions, garlic, and ginger.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, cumin, allspice, salt and semolina.
Add spice mixture to the meat mixture.
Use the same small bowl (cuts down on dishes!) and beat the egg lightly, add to the meat mixture.
Use your hands and mix everything very thoroughly.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Set out a small bowl of water and a baking sheet.
Dampen your hands with a bit of the water and scoop out about a teaspoonful of the mixture. Roll into a tiny ball and set on the baking sheet.
When all the meatballs are rolled, heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan. Line another baking sheet with paper towels.
Fry the meatballs in batches and avoid crowding the pan.
Cook for a minute or so on each side, until brown all over. Check one meatball from each batch with an instant thermometer to see that the meatballs are reaching 165 degrees. Try not to eat half of each batch. It’s hard, but I think you can do it. (Although I can’t!)
Alternatively, if you’d like to bake them, place the baking sheet in a 350 degree oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Check temperature with an instant thermometer to see that the meatballs are reaching 165 degrees.
You can freeze these either after frying or raw. If you freeze them raw you won’t be able to fry them, you’ll have to bake them later. Either way, they’re awesome! They take about 20-25 minutes to bake after they’ve been frozen.