The best lamb burger I ever had was prepared by a Greek man at a farmer’s market in Kinsale, Ireland. The secret ingredient, he told me, was the addition of ouzo – a Greek anise-flavored spirit (similar to Italy’s Sambuca). So I decided to make lamb meatballs using ouzo and they were phenomenal! Don’t be afraid of the anise flavor – it isn’t licoricey. Ouzo gives depth of flavor and keeps the meatballs deliciously moist. No dipping sauce is needed for these flavorful lamb meatballs.
To make-ahead for a party, prepare the meatballs up to 2 days in advance and undercook them. Reheat in the microwave for about 2 minutes, adding an additional minute at a time if needed.
Ouzo Lamb Meatballs
1 lb. ground lamb
3 Tbs. ouzo
½ yellow onion, chopped
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced
3 Tbs. fresh mint, finely chopped
1 ½ Tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbs. capers (rinsed), finely chopped
1 large egg + 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 lemon, zested
1. Place meat in medium bowl, add ouzo and let sit. Sautee onions in 1 Tbs. olive oil until soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add onion to meat mixture.
2. Add remaining ingredients to meat mixture and knead until well combined and smooth. Using moistened hands or a small spring-loaded scoop, form meat mixture into 1” meatballs and place on a baking sheet.
3. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in large skillet, cooking meatballs in batches until browned on all sides (size of batch depends of size of your skillet – keep the skillet hot by leaving plenty of room for each meatball). Keep cooked meatballs warm on a baking sheet in a pre-heated 200-degree oven. Sprinkle meatballs with lemon zest before serving.