Lamb meatballs in a sherry-cream sauce

I haven’t always been a fan of eating lamb. I can’t really explain why. But, I can say that it didn’t take much for my mind to be changed and inspired to cook it at home.

On one of the many visits to Jose Garces’ Amada, one of the dishes we ordered was albóndigas in a sherry foie gras cream sauce and hands-down they were the best meatballs I have ever eaten. Made from lamb in the Spanish style, they are pretty much the reason I bought Garces’ cookbook. I’ve mentioned before that his recipes are quite extensive and involve multiple smaller recipes that are then combined. The best way to approach these recipes is to prepare a couple days ahead of time. But, it’s all worth it.

So for Easter dinner, I decided to recreate his lamb meatballs and they turned out pretty well. What I love about them is that they are very moist and you can taste the individual flavors as they come together; I especially like the hint of mint that comes through.

lamb meatballs

Albóndigas in sherry-cream sauce with a salad.

Sherry-cream sauce
Yields 2 1/2 cups

Part 1: *Onion confit
3 Spanish or red onions, peeled and quartered
1-2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme

Red onions in oil

Starting to cook the red onions.

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients. Over low-medium heat, cook the onions until extremely tender – this will take at least 2 hours. Chill. Remove herbs. In a food processor, puree until smooth. Can be refrigerated for up to 1 month and is great to use in all kinds of sauces. (Note: the original recipe says to put the onions in whole, cook in 8 cups of oil for about 10 hours! That’s why I cut them.) 

Part 2: sherry-cream sauce
3 shallots, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 – 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup dry sherry
4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup onion confit*
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

In a saucepan over low heat, sweat shallots and garlic in oil. Deglaze pan with sherry. Over medium heat, reduce sherry mixture to a syrup. Add cream and reduce mixture by half. Fold pureed onion confit into sherry-cream mixture; puree everything with a hand blender until mixed well. Season with salt. Pass through a chinois. This can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Albóndgia mixture
2/3 cup small-diced bread
1/2 cup milk
2lbs ground lamb
1/2 – 1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped caramelized onions
3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley chiffonade
1 – 2 tbsp mint chiffonade
2 tsp. chili pepper
2 large eggs
1 tsp. black pepper
3 tsp. kosher salt

Soak bread in milk until milk is absorbed. In a bowl, fold all ingredients together. Using 1-tablespoon portions, roll mixture into balls.

Albóndiga mixture

Albóndiga mixture

Mixed ground lamb

Hand-mixed albóndiga mixture.

Raw lamb meatballs

2lbs of albóndigas!!

Putting it all together
Preheat oven to 400F. In a large heavy-bottomed 4-quart pan (or fryer), heat 1 cup vegetable oil to 375F. Working in batches, fry albóndigas for 1 – 3 minutes until browned. Remove from pan and place on sheet tray. Bake for 5 minutes.

Frying meatballs

Frying the meatballs.

Baked meatballs

Albóndigas fresh out of the oven.

In a saucepan over medium heat combine albóndigas and sherry-cream sauce. Bring cream to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 1 minute, until cream thickens slightly.

Wine Pairing

While I was in the liquor store, I was unsure of what type of wine to get for this dish. One of the guys working there recommended Pinot Noir. It was the perfect wine for this dish. 

Mirassou Pinot Noir

Mirassou Pinot Noir


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