On the lamb

Well, it has been a welcome break, now back to the kitchen. while taking a break, I was invited by some friends to taste a number of Cabernet Sauvignons at their beautiful home on Whidbey Island. Ahh, it was truly a relaxing evening of comraderie, great food and great wines. My task for the evening was to prepare and bring a dish to pair with the Cabs.

Lucky for me, I received as a Christmas gift a copy of Perfect Pairings, a book by Evan Goldstein, sommelier and James Beard Award winner, and Joyce Goldstein, his mom, Chef, restauranteur and author. Her food is OUTSTANDING! So, I perused my new book.

Goldstein says Cabs are somewhat difficult to pair with food, as they are big, bold, tannic, high alcohol, and aged in oak — so pair with red meats, grilled or smoked foods, black pepper, foods that are somewhat bitter. OK, but I was planning on making Greek Lamb Meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce. Time to rethink my recipe. Let’s turn a few more pages. There is a recipe in the book for Coffee and Pepper-Rubbed Rib Roast. That was out, because I knew my hostess was already preparing beef tenderloin.

In the end, I opted to use the recipe for the marinade for the rib roast from the book, and use it on a less spicy version of the meatballs. I thought it worked well, my friends liked it, and could be prepared in advance (always a plus for me). I want to share this recipe with you. Buon appetito!

Coffee & Pepper Crusted Lamb Meatballs

For marinade:

6 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons   Dijon mustard

2 tablespoon freshly ground coffee (I used espresso)

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

For meatballs:

1 pound lean ground lamb

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

16 skewers, or toothpicks

Mix together all ingredients for marinade; set aside.

In a bowl, mix the lamb with the egg, bread crumbs, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls. Place into shallow container and pour marinade over; turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Remove meatballs from marinade and place on rack in shallow pan to roast. Roast until done and browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve on skewers. Makes about 32 meatballs.

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