Easter may have been traditionally celebrated this past weekend, but some will actually be observing it this Sunday. That’s because Orthodox Christians adhere to the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, followed by all other Christians. The Orthodox Church also requires that Easter (“pascha”) take place after the Jewish celebration of Passover. Interesting, right? We even asked an expert for her take on the food aspects of the holiday. Our one big takeaway was that Greeks love to eat lamb on Easter Sunday. Make these lamb meatballs to celebrate this Sunday…or for dinner anytime!
Lamb is a biggie around Easter time, and I love big, bold Greek flavors in general — and lamb in particular! The secret to the flavors here is to taste and then try to make sure you’re almost pushing the limit with both the lemon and the salt — like you’ve just about used too much of each, which is then just enough. They temper each other. Add the refreshing brightness of the mint, and you have a worthy foil for the rich gaminess of the lamb. The tzatziki here is made with cheese instead of yogurt, which brings together citrus, mint and goat cheese — what could be more lamb-friendly than that?
Jay Murray is executive chef of Grill 23 & Bar in Boston’s Back Bay.
- 1 pound ground lamb shoulder
- 2 tablespoons grilled scallion purée (optional, see recipe below)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Grilled Scallion Purée
- 1 bunch scallions, washed and left whole
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 English cucumbers, skin on, roughly chopped
- 12 leaves mint, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 cup fresh chevre (such as Rawson Brook Farm)
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- lamb meatballs
- flour, as needed
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 package kataifi (shredded filo), thawed overnight in the refrigerator
- red wine vinegar powder (optional)
- chevre tzatziki
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs and form into 2-ounce balls (this is easier if you wet your hands with cold water intermittently while forming the balls.)
- Roast the meatballs for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and allow to cool.
- Preheat the grill on high heat.
- Brush the scallions with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and grill over high heat, stirring often. They should get a nice char.
- When the scallions are partly charred and feel limp, after about 3 minutes, remove them from the grill.
- Chop the scallions and combine with the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processer, and puree until smooth.
- Combine the cucumber, mint, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until thoroughly minced.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients.
- Transfer to a mesh strainer or cheesecloth and allow any excess moisture to strain off. You can expedite the process by gently mixing the tzatziki while it strains.
- Preheat a fryer to 350°F.
- Working one at a time, dredge each meatball in flour, and then coat with the beaten egg.
- Make a little nest of the kataifi and transfer the meatball to the next, bringing the filo up and over. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.
- Fry half of the meatballs until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Keep them warm.
- Fry the remaining meatballs until golden brown.
- Sprinkle each meatball with salt (and vinegar powder, if using), and serve with the tzatziki.
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