Chef's notes:

I have spoken before of my dislike for lamb fat. But I guess somewhere along the way, after cooking lamb on a regular basis, I developed a taste for it. Take for example my recent experience with cooking lamb meatballs. I was initially surprised at the percentage of fat in the ground lamb. I was a little concerned that the fat would overpower the flavor. But the fat flavor that came out was really quite pleasant. In fact, because of the high level of fat in the meat, I didn’t have to use oil to fry the meatballs. I just put them into a hot pan and let the fat render into its own cooking oil.

It is possible that the lamb fat I was initially exposed to was of a much lower quality than the lamb that I am currently eating. But there is also something to be said for acquiring tastes. As a child I hated, with a passion, green beans and asparagus. Now I love both.


  • 2 # ground lamb
  • ¼ C minced onion
  • ¼ C minced Serrano chili
  • 2 T curry powder
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • pinch of ground cloves

Lamb Meatballs: Ground Lamb Mixed with Onion, Garlic, and Curry Simmered in Curried Coconut Cream

  1. Remove the ground lamb from its package, and put it into a bowl large enough to accommodate all the ingredients. For this recipe, I used 2 pounds of lamb that we had in the freezer. It took a day or two to thaw in the refrigerator. If lamb is available fresh and local, that would be better. But the frozen stuff, which is becoming more and more available, is just fine too.
  2. Chop up the onion, peppers and garlic. Measure out the spices, add them to the bowl and begin mixing. As you can see in the photo, my onion and peppers are not chopped very finely. I would advise you to mince them a little finer; it will work out better. Mix everything together with a spoon or by hand. Mix just until everything comes together.
  3. Test the mix by frying a small pancake of it. Adjust if necessary. Once you have the meat mixture just right, use a spoon to measure out equal portions of it. You can also use a small ice cream scoop. Portion or ice cream scoopers use numbers to refer to their size. The larger the number, the smaller the scoop. For these meatballs, I would use a number 40 or a number 60 scoop.
  4. Roll the meat balls in between your palms. You may have to conjure up memories of being a child and playing with play dough. The meatballs shouldn’t be sticking to your hands at all, because of all the fat in them. But if they are, spray your hands with pan spray or rub them with cooking oil. Put the rolled meatballs onto a plate or cutting board as you complete them.
  5. Heat a pan on the stove to a click past medium. Put the meatballs into the pan once it is hot. If you are using a nonstick pan, you will not need to add oil. But if you are not using a nonstick pan, you will have to add a little oil. Do not put too many meatballs in the pan at once. The picture to the right illustrates this point well.
  6. Flip the meatballs over as they begin to brown. Be careful not to touch them too much, or they may break up. I used a pair of spring-loaded tongs to flip them. Some people just jerk the pan a little to get them to flip over, but use caution when jerking a pan of hot stuff around. Brown all sides and continue.
  7. Be careful not to touch them too much, or they may break up. I used a pair of spring-loaded tongs to flip them. Some people just jerk the pan a little to get them to flip over, but use caution when jerking a pan of hot stuff around. Brown all sides and continue. The exact proportions are as follows: 1 cup coconut cream, 1 tablespoon of curry powder and ½ cup of water. If you use coconut milk, you won’t have to add any water.
  8. Pour the cream mixture over the meatballs and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the meatballs until the sauce reduces to a thickness that coats the meatballs well. It will take a least five minutes. The sauce will begin to darken in color as it reduces. Once it clings to all sides of the meatballs, it’s done. You may want to cut a meatball in half to check the inside. But it should be done.

Tips & Tricks

  • Get your hands on some disposable latex-free food service gloves. These will come in handy for chopping up spicy peppers, beets, carrots, squash, and for mixing sticky things by hand. Get the latex-free variety because many people have allergies to latex, and there is no significant difference between latex and non-latex gloves.
  • I learned how to deep fry meatballs while working in a Chinese kitchen. Later, I learned that a lot of restaurants deep fry their meatballs because it browns all sides of the meat while keeping the meatball nice and round. Heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Use a portion scoop to get just the right amount of meat, roll the meatballs, and place them on a pan to use as a staging ground for deep frying. Once the oil has reached 350 degrees, lower the basket into the empty oil. Next, carefully and slowly drop the meatballs one at a time into the oil. Don’t splash, for obvious reasons. The meatballs will only take a few minutes to get brown. They may not be cooked all the way through, so check the internal temperature; 150 degrees F is what you are looking for. If they are not quite there, place them in an oven to finish.

Curried Coconut Cream Recipe

  • 1 can coconut cream
  • 1/2 can water
  • 1 T curry powder