Greek Meatballs

Greek Meatballs! made with spicy lamb and pork meatballs, mint, jalapeño, garlic, shallots, orange zest, and Greek yogurt for dipping.
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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I found this recipe in the weekend edition of the Wall St. Journal as good “noshing” food for New Year’s and had to give it a try, with a few minor changes.

It comes from chef Michael Symon of the Parea Greek restaurant in New York and Lola & Lolita Bistro in Cleveland. The meatballs are quite tasty and work well dipped in a little yogurt.

Greek Meatballs Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 20 meatballs

Meatballs can also be cooked ahead, refrigerated and reheated in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 4 ounces salt pork or bacon, ground or finely minced
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Greek yogurt for dipping

Method

1 Soften shallots, jalapeño, garlic: Heat a small pan over medium heat and add oil, minced garlic, jalapeño and shallot, and cook for 1 minute, then let cool.

2 Make meatball mixture: Meanwhile, crumble lamb into a large bowl. Evenly scatter the salt pork (or bacon), orange zest and mint over lamb, and season with pepper. Sprinkle the cooled garlic mixture over lamb.

3 Form meatballs: Gently mix until just combined, then form into 1¼-inch balls and transfer to a plate or sheet pan.

4 Brown meatballs on all sides: Heat a large cast iron pan over medium to medium high heat. Working in batches if necessary to prevent crowding, brown meatballs on all sides until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve warm with toothpicks or skewers with plain yogurt.

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Showing 4 of 13 Comments

  • Taryn

    We were looking for something to do with about a pound of ground beef so made these with beef, no pork or orange and substituted oregano for the mint (though now that we’ve had it we think mint would have still worked well with the beef). We added about a quarter cup breadcrumbs, a teaspoon mustard powder and a teaspoon red pepper flakes. We baked them at 400 for 15 minutes on a slotted pan instead of pan frying since we knew we’d have more fat in our beef. They were a bit fragile, so I think next time we’d add an egg or soak the breadcrumbs in some milk or something. We served them up in pita pockets with cucumber slices, a homemade tzatziki and smoked paprika.

  • Kristie

    I have made regular meatballs and have been wanting to a Greek version. These turned out great! I think sauteing the garlic, jalapeño and shallot adds extra flavor. Love this recipe and will make it again.

  • Sara

    My father is Greek and my mother is Jewish, and my I lived for a while with a Muslim Turk, so I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to substitute for pork in Greek dishes. :)

    The best thing to do is get the fattiest cut of lamb you can. Next, trim the fat into very small pieces, and brown them in a pan until crispy. (And use the meat for whatever) This will also work with chicken skins. Drain off the fat and reserve it. The resulting crispy bits are very similar to bacon. I’m not really sure what “salt pork” is, but if it’s similar to bacon, then this should work for that as well. For a more bacony flavor, add a TINY amount of “liquid smoke” (also great for beef jerky), but be careful; a little goes a very long way.

  • Carl Schiötz

    The method Jonathan’s describes below for making Greek-style yogurt works very well. If you do not have cheese cloth at home, you can just use the paper filter and cone from your drip coffee maker. Makes excellent thick yogurt.

  • Sally Parrott Ashbrook

    I made these tonight using organic bacon instead of salt pork, and it worked great. Tasty recipe–thanks for sharing it. :)

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