This appetizer-sized portion of Lamb Meatballs in Chimichurri are baked in the oven.
Verjus is the pressed juice of unripened grapes, and can be red (made from either purely red grapes or a red-white mix) or white (made from white grapes). While acidic, verjus has a gentler flavor than vinegar, so I chose it here so that the chimichurri would be more compatible with the wine. You may substitute an equal amount of any vinegar you like.
- 2 cup flat leaf parsley (leaves only)
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 6 clove garlic (peeled, minced and divided)
- 3 small shallots (peeled and minced)
- 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (divided)
- 2 teaspoon lemon zest (divided)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika (divided)
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin (divided)
- 2/3 cup red verjus (see notes)
- 1 ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 2 pound ground lamb
- 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (not dried)
Make the chimichurri: Place parsley, mint, half the minced garlic, all the minced shallots, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, sugar, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, and red verjus into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10 or 12 times, then run the machine while drizzling in the olive oil until you achieve the desired consistency. You might not use all the oil. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the dried oregano. The chimichurri should be made up at least 1 hour and up to 3 days in advance. Mix well before serving.
Make the meatballs: Place the oven racks in the center and top positions then preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl combine salt, chili powder, remaining 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, remaining 1 teaspoon cumin, remaining minced garlic and cayenne and mix well.
Place ground lamb in a medium bowl and add eggs, breadcrumbs, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest and the spice blend from the small bowl. Mix well with your hands.
Use a 2-inch scoop to divide the meat into 18 equally-sized portions. Roll each portion between your hands to form a ball. Arrange them 2 inches apart on 2 baking sheets. Bake on a middle and top rack, rotating the sheets halfway through cooking, until meatballs are browned and cooked through; 12 to 15 minutes. Move the sheets to a wire rack to rest about 3 minutes, then place the meatballs into a large bowl and toss them with about ½ cup chimichurri until well-coated. Pour the meatballs onto a serving platter and serve immediately with the remaining chimichurri on the side.
Serve with chimichurri sauce. Serves 5-6 (makes about 16 meatballs).