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Lamb Meatballs in Sour-Cherry Sauce

slideshow More Amazing Lamb Recipes

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

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  • 2 cups dried sour cherries (13 ounces)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 pounds marbled boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of sliver skin and gristle, meat and fat finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)
  • Mini pita breads, warmed


  1. In a bowl, soak the dried cherries in the water until softened, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, spread the lamb in an even layer. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, allspice, 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Sprinkle the spices over the lamb and knead them in. Form the lamb into 3/4-inch meatballs; you should have about 60.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook over high heat, shaking the pan, until lightly browned outside and rare in the center, about 4 minutes. Drain well.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the onions and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 12 minutes. Add the cherries and their soaking liquid and the lemon juice and simmer over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and any accumulated juices and simmer over low heat until they are slightly pink inside and the sauce has reduced slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with the parsley and serve with pita breads.

Make Ahead

The meatballs can be refrigerated overnight in their sauce. Reheat gently.

Contributed By Photo © Quentin Bacon Published February 2004

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