Sadistic Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hot Buttered Peas

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Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hot Buttered Peas

When I was making these Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hot Buttered Peas my mind was going in a million directions. So forgive me if I can’t put together a disciplined post that has very much to do with the pictures you see on this page! My MIL has been in the hospital and I find myself taking all sorts of shortcuts. Typically I’m the sort of person who believes if you put a little extra elbow grease into something the rewards you reap are far greater than the effort put forth. However, not this time. This post may be long, but actually it’s a free association editorial shortcut. I can’t promise I’ll stay on message.

When your days (and nights) are spent pacing the halls of hospitals, shortcuts quickly become part of your day-to-day life. Which is why you’re seeing Spiced Lamb Meatballs and Hot Buttered Peas, a dish seemingly more suited to April than November. I say seemingly because fresh peas straight from the pod are indeed a springtime treat, well worth the extra elbow grease they require. However, frozen peas are an off-season shortcut that I find perfectly acceptable. Are you surprised? Had you just assumed I was too persnickety to advocate for frozen peas?

Well, I have news for you. I think frozen peas are the greatest shortcut known to man (or woman)! They’re one of the two veggies I regularly buy frozen (artichoke hearts are the other – I do a really good roasted artichoke bruschetta that starts with frozen artichoke hearts).

Anyway, it’s not the taste and texture (or quality) of frozen peas that I find myself thinking about as I write this post. It’s the memory that buttered peas bring up every time I serve them. I warn you, this is going to be quite a diversion from the Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hot Buttered Peas recipe I intended to write about today. But here goes.

You see this whole distracted thing started because I was making this meal while I was listening to some cable pundit talking about “kids today” and all the crazy stuff they’re up to. The guy on TV was trying to make the point that kids today have an exaggerated sense of invulnerability and are far more likely to participate in dangerous activities than the kids from previous generations. Naturally, he blamed video games and apps like Pokemon Go for the deterioration of childhood innocence.

Now, I’m not a gamer, and I’m not here to defend or decry these games. In fact, I pay very little attention to video games and really have no opinion about them at all. But I will say kids will be kids and they’ll have their fun no matter what you or I say.

So why bother to say anything? Well, in a convoluted way this pundit’s opinion has a lot to do with Spiced Lamb Meatballs and Hot Buttered Peas. Because at the center of this recipe are peas and butter. In fact, the phrase Hot Peas & Butter is what makes me uniquely qualified to respond directly to that talking head and his theories on childhood sadism. And that response is a resounding “baloney”!

Kids today are not more sadistic or vengeful than the kids from his gilded childhood. I doubt they’re any more aggressive either. And you know what? I believe most kids today will grow up just fine, no matter what games they choose to play.

But what the heck does this little tirade have to do with Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hot Buttered Peas?

Well, maybe I’m dating myself, but when I was a kid there was a particularly sadistic little game we played called Hot Peas & Butter. Maybe it was regional game because we only played it when I lived in Utah, but I did a little research and I’m not the only kid that played this little game. It has several names and they all have peas and butter in the title. So I’ll let the Urban Dictionary sum up the game just so you know that I am not making this whole thing up.

“HOT PEAS & BUTTER is a fun ass game in which one person hides a belt and asks a group of people to find it. The person who hid the belt can help the people find it easier by saying degrees of temperature (i.e. hot, warm, cold) as a metaphor to describe their proximity to the whereabouts of the belt. After a person finds the belt they yell “Hot Peas and Butter!” and the other participants have to run back to home base before they get their ass whipped with the belt.”

I’m not kidding. The point of the game was to slap other kids really hard before they made it home safe. I can still feel the sting that belt produced on the back of my young legs. So when I hear that video games are the cause of children feeling particularly invulnerable I would like to remind the pundits that the only video game we had was Pong. Which was so boring we had to run outside and invent games that were sadistic, vengeful and aggressive.

Wow. That was quite a digression from Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hot Buttered Peas. Like I said, I’m very distracted these days. GREG

Spiced Lamb Meatballs and Hot Buttered Peas

Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hot Buttered Peas

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Source Adapted from The Basque BookPublished
Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hot Buttered Peas

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 2 roughly chopped peeled onions
  • 1 roughly chopped carrot
  • 2 leeks (white and light green parts roughly chopped and rinsed)
  • 1 ½ cup red wine
  • 12 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 pound ground lamb
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 onions (peeled and minced)
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • canola oil (as needed for frying)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup diced, dry-cured Spanish chorizo
  • 3 cup fresh and blanched or frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter (at room temperature)

Directions

Make the stock: In a large saucepan, warm 3 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the roughly chopped onions, carrot, and leeks and cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, until they just begin to color. Add wine and simmer for a few minutes until the alcohol cooks off. Add the stock and mint, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer the stock gently for an additional hour. Remove from heat, strain stock through a fine mesh sieve, and return to the saucepan. Set aside.

Make the meatballs: While the stock is simmering combine lamb, breadcrumbs, half of the minced onion, egg, paprika, cayenne, and allspice in a large bowl; fold to combine until the spices are well incorporated but without overworking the mixture. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.

Shape the lamb mixture into 1-inch balls. Pour the canola oil to a depth of 3/4 inch into a deep straight-sided pan and place over high heat. Working batches, add the meatballs to the hot oil and fry, turning as needed, for 2 to 3 minutes, until evenly browned on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

Make the hot buttered peas: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining minced onion, bay leaf, chorizo, and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat and sweat for about 7 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is translucent. Add the peas, tossing to coat, and cook until just cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter.

Assemble the dish: Meanwhile, bring the prepared stock to a boil over high heat and turn down the heat to a simmer. Add the browned meatballs and simmer 3 to 4 minutes, until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the warm meatballs to a warm serving dish, add the hot buttered peas, and fold together. Serve warm. Save the stock for another use.

 

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