Half Lamb, Half Beef: The flavor will knock your socks off. Light texture and plenty of alluring spices. Plus the crunch of pita chips. Frisky Tzatziki. Oh my.And a just-right heat comes from harissa (North African chili paste – sold at Whole Foods, Middle Eastern markets and some supermarkets that stock a wide variety of imported goods).
Watch the video with Ross Pangilinan, Executive Chef at Leatherby’s Café Rouge in Costa Mesa. He shares all the tricks: the meatballs and the delectable cucumber sauce that accompanies them.
The got-to-have-one-more taste and aroma is made even more alluring by a panko-fied texture. Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) plays a role in keeping the delicate texture, as does the technique used to form them. Check it out in the video – and also keep an eye out for the interesting way he blends the mixture.
For at-home entertaining, the sauce and the meatballs can be prepared several hours in advance and refrigerated. Just before serving, grill-mark the meatballs and finish them off in the oven.
Leatherby’s Appetizer Lamb Meatballs with Cucumber Tzaziki
Yield: 6 to 8 portions
1/4 to 1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon harissa paste (or other chili paste), see cook’s notes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or parsley
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons grated and strained cucumber
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Garnish: sliced fresh chives, coarse salt such as fleur de sel, freshly ground black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and pita chips
Cook’s notes: Harissa is a North African chili paste that is sold in Middle Eastern markets, some natural food stores, and some supermarkets with large imported specialty food sections. It is often packaged in squeeze-able tubes the size of toothpaste.
1. Grate cucumber using the large holes on a box grater. Place in colander; sprinkle with a little salt and set aside to drain.
2. Place all meatball ingredients in large bowl of electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, thoroughly mix (starting on lowest speed). Cover and chill for 1 hour. If available use a 1-ounce ice-cream scoop to portion the mixture. Form into 1 1/2-inch spheres using lightly-oiled hands.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a lightly-oiled grill pan on medium-high heat. Place 3 to 4 meatballs on each bamboo skewer. Place in single layer on grill pan in batches. Grill mark the exterior on all sides and place on rimmed baking sheet; place in preheated oven for 4 to 8 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.
4. Meanwhile, prepare tzatziki. In medium bowl, place 2 tablespoons (packed) grated and strained cucumber. Add remaining tzatziki ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Smear tzatziki on individual serving plates or platter. Top with meatballs. Sprinkle on chives, coarse salt, pepper and a small drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Add pita chips, placing them vertically between the meatballs.
Source: Ross Pangilinan, Executive Chef at Leatherby’s Café Rouge,Costa Mesa
Some markets stock panko in the Asian specialty section. Others put it on the shelf with the “regular” dried breadcrumbs.