Lamb Meatballs with Rhubarb Sauce

Here we are, about to hurl ourselves into fall tomorrow, and I am giving you a recipe for a spring dish. What?!

Can I tell you a secret?  I made this recipe about two months ago, and I am just getting around to posting it. This is what happens when you spend August traveling and getting ready for the start of school. And then you spend the opening of September launching that school year. No matter how prepared you think you are, you're not prepared. 

September. Post Labor Day. Full on ready for pumpkin lattes and wool sweaters and tart apples. And it appears I was cooking with rhubarb. I was not. (But I was. Back in July (which for many places might feel a bit late, but in California, rhubarb does seem to have a long season)).

I liked these little meat balls. There's not an ounce of bread in them, so if you're all up in the Paleo diet, these will do you just fine. If you're like me, however, and all up into the feeling of laziness and don't want to go out and buy bread, you're golden. 

And this sauce was spectacular. Tess Ward in her book, The Naked Cookbook, encourages a sweet sauce. However, I halved the amount of date syrup (the recipe calls for 1/4 cup. I used 1/8). I'll admit, 1/8 of a cup did the trick for me because all that sour, distinctively tangy taste of rhubarb came through. Start with 1/8 of a cup. Add more if you need it.

Alright, friends, I cannot promise upcoming autumnal recipes (I still have a one or two left in my hopper filled with summer food), but I can promise you that I will be indulging in my own pumpkin lattes and watching October baseball and wearing boots soon enough. 

Cannot wait.

Lamb Meatballs with Rhubarb Sauce

4 Servings

For the Meatballs
1 lb ounces (16 ounces) lean ground lamb
1 onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 small egg, beaten
1 Tbsp coconut oil (or oil of your choice)

For the Rhubarb Sauce

1 cup chicken stock, divided
10 ounces rhubarb, cut into 3-inch lengths
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1/8 cup date syrup
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Sea salt
1 cup water

For serving
Steamed rice (of your choice)
1/3 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
Handful of cilantro leaves
1 lemon

1. To make the meatballs: Mix the lamb, onion, garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl. Then mix in the egg. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Then shape the mixture into about 20 meatballs.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Fry the meatballs in batches, about 5 at a time, until browned on all sides and cooked almost through to the middle. Set aside and keep warm. Drain the fat into a bowl.

3.  To make the sauce: Return the pan to the heat and deglaze with 1/2 of the stock. Add the rhubarb, cardamom, date syrup, cumin, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Stir in the remaining stock and the water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until the rhubarb has broken down fully. Then remove the lid and reduce the sauce until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes.

4. Serve the meatballs with the sauce and some steamed rice. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and cilantro leaves. (I actually stirred the pistachios and cilantro into the rice for a little pilaf effect). Squeeze a little lemon on top. 


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