Thursday, April 17, 2008

Recipe: Lamb and Leek Meatballs with Onion Egg-Lemon Sauce (Κεφτέδες με Πράσα και Αβγολέμονο)

I redeemed myself tonight. My sad story about an unfortunate lamb tagine has a happy ending.

Two days ago, after deciding the tagine was not worth eating, I’d rinsed off the meat and threw away every bit of the nasty sauce. I was left with tender chunks of leftover lamb.

Tonight I ground the lamb in a food processor, and mixed it with soft, sweet leeks to make luscious little meatballs. Paired with an oniony egg-lemon sauce, the meatballs made a delicious mid-week meal.

The egg-lemon sauce (avgolemono) has an unusual twist. Because the meatballs weren’t cooked in liquid, I didn’t have the broth necessary for making egg-lemon sauce. Rather than using plain chicken stock, I simmered stock with onions to boost the flavor, and used this as the foundation for the sauce. The result was surprisingly good, and paired particularly well with leek meatballs.

Although the meatballs could easily be made with raw ground lamb, they are a great way to use up leftover roast (or the remnants of tragic tagine). Since Easter dinner is just 10 days away, and we’ll no doubt have leftover lamb again soon, I invented the meatballs just in time.

Lamb-Leek Meatballs with Avgolemono SauceLamb and Leek Meatballs with Onion Egg-Lemon Sauce (Κεφτέδες με Πράσα και Αβγολέμονο)
Serves 4 (makes 20 1” meatballs)
The meatballs can be served on their own as an appetizer (without the egg-lemon sauce) or with tomato sauce instead of egg-lemon. They are a wonderful way to use up leftover roast lamb.

3 cups diced leeks, 1/8” dice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups leftover lamb, ground (or raw ground lamb)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
4 tsp. minced mint
2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 egg
Oil for frying the meatballs

Egg-Lemon Sauce (Avgolemono):
1 cup diced yellow onion, 1/4” dice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Minced mint for garnish

Make the meatballs: Sauté the leeks in olive oil, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, over medium heat until the leeks are soft. Mix the leeks with the lamb, garlic, mint, oregano, and egg. Brown a sample of the meatball mix in olive oil, taste, and add salt, freshly ground black pepper, mint, or oregano to the meatball mix, as needed. Shape the mix into 1” balls, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, and fry half the meatballs until they are nicely browned on all sides. If you put too many meatballs in the pan at one time, they won’t brown properly; if you’re in a hurry, cook the meatballs in two frying pans. Drain on paper towels. (You can hold the meatballs in a 250°F oven for 15 minutes, if needed, while you make the sauce.)

Make the Egg-Lemon Sauce: Start the egg-lemon sauce while the meatballs are chilling in the refrigerator. Sauté the onion in olive oil, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Purée the onions and stock in a blender. Strain out the solids, pressing out as much liquid as possible.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they are very thick. Add the lemon juice slowly while continuing to beat the eggs. Slowly beat in the onion-stock, and put the mixture in a saucepan.

When the meatballs are nearly done, or are keeping warm in a 250°F oven, cook the sauce over low heat until it thickens (this takes 3 - 5 minutes). Don’t let the sauce boil, or it will curdle. If the sauce is too thick for your taste, thin it out with a little chicken stock.

To Serve: Spoon a pool of egg-lemon sauce onto a plate, top with five meatballs, sprinkle with minced mint, and serve immediately.
This is my entry for Leftover Tuesdays #13, hosted by Project Foodie.


Anonymous said...

Your creativity astounds me Laurie! You turned a mini kitchen disaster into a fantastic gourmet delight. Speaking of Easter I'm making tsourekia tomorrow for the first time (fingers crossed).

Maria Verivaki said...

very good of you to cook second-hand meat. 2 cups of oil - now that alone should have put you off!

Anonymous said...

Looks and sounds delicious. Glad everything turned out well. ;-)


Unknown said...

My goodness, what a delightful recipe! Leeks are so yummy, and lemon with lamb is heavenly. I am so glad you found a way to use your lamb.

BTW, after you grilled veggies and radicchio salad posts (making me hungry) I went out and bought veggies and ridicchio. We finally dusted off the last bits of freezing rain from our grill, and grilled them all. We used blue cheese on our radicchio salad (tasty!). Thank you for the inspiration! I love grilled veggies!

Peter M said...

Good save with the lamb, Laurie. I also like the onion in the Agvolemono...a nice touch.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Laurie can make a silk purse from a sow's ear. Well, from a lamb's...something. Oh, never mind! Anyway, it looks delicious!

Cris said...

You came up with something yummy and it didn't wreck your meat. Have a nice weekend!

Anonymous said...

What a great recovery and perfect leftover lesson!

Cakelaw said...

Great save Lauire - these meatballs look and sound delicious, and it ensures that oherwise wonderful lamb was not relegated to the rubbish.

Kalyn Denny said...

Brilliant recipe, they sound just fabulous.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I knew you'd come up with something to save the lamb. You got me with the avolgomeno fave:D

Ivy said...

Leeks taste wonderful and you turned a disaster into a wonderful meal. I wouldn't expect less from a good cook like you Laurie.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Looks like you made a beautiful recovery--these look delicious and the sauce sounds like the perfect compliment to the meatballs!

Laurie Constantino said...

Peter, I hope your tsourekia turned out! I spent the last week baking a bunch, so hopefully we'll be able to compare recipes soon.

Maria, just call me Ms. Frugal.

Paz, thanks!

Lannae, you are so right about leeks - they are wonderful! The radicchio with blue cheese sounds great, and I'm so happy to hear you were inspired - it really makes my day.

Peter, I thought of the onions as a good companion to leeks, but there are so many ways the onion avgolemeno could be used. There will definitely be a repeat of this one.

Lulu, I had the leftovers for lunch, and even they were great.

Thanks Cris!

Pam, for some unknown reason, leftovers seem to inspire me.

Kalyn, thanks!

Val, avgolemono is also one of my favorites. My tastebuds are always so happy when I eat it.

Ivy, so glad I lived up to your expectations!!

Mike, leeks and lemon, a classic combination that works every time.

Laurie Constantino said...

Cakelaw, one of my New Year's resolutions every year is to not waste food. It takes a lot of discipline to keep the resolution! Thanks for the kind words.

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