I figure this posting works well here, right after yesterday's blog posting on masculinity! :)

So, I think I've taken the next step or so in learning cooking: I've started checking for what meat is on sale, then selecting recipes that take advantage of that… and I actually cribbed together two separate recipes to come up with one new one that best suited my needs! I'm both somewhat surprised at how well it came out, and quite pleased with myself.

Since ground lamb was on sale at my local grocery store, I bought 2 lbs worth and froze it until I was ready. After that I checked for what recipes, if any, I had that used lamb. There were a couple of ethnic ones that I looked at but decided not to try (due to not having the somewhat specialized tools they were using), and there were a few that looked wonderful but required more ingredients and spices than you could shake a stick at! There were also two lamb meatball recipes, and those I considered as real possibilities. The problem was that each had things to both recommend them, and toss them back as undesirable. I'm pretty adamant, after all, at not having to go shopping with a list longer than my arm, and to not have to work for two or three hours on the meal to make sure it's done right. Cooking time can be long — I do love my crockpot — but prep time? Definitely not.

Since I had 2 lbs of lamb, but both recipes called for only 1 to 1 ½ lbs, I added half again to the recipe's ingredients, which worked out fine. Funnily enough, though, it took quite a bit more time than I expected to shape all the little meatballs, and I have a LOT of meatballs left over… so if I make this one again I'll definitely go back to using less meat. Also, when I thawed the lamb package overnight in the fridge, there was rather a bloody mess all over the shelf! Bleah. Not my favorite cleaning job, even as a former veterinarian's surgery technician.

That caused me to worry that the meat might be going slightly off (though I was later reassured that this was not the case), and so I cooked it for about 10 to 15 minutes more than the recipe asked for. It's my guess that the meatballs would be more moist if I hadn't done that. So, here's the recipe I came up with:

Lamb Meatball Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 3 teaspoons crushed garlic (or 4, if you too love roasted garlic)
  • ¾ cup rice (measure it out, then cook it before adding to the meat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons masala
  • 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • About a cup of dried breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan

Directions

  1. Mix meat, garlic, rice, eggs, masala, & black pepper.
  2. Shape into balls half the size of an egg (about the size of a small spoon's bowl). Roll the balls in breadcrumbs.
  3. Place each ball in a mini-muffin tray (not the full sized kind — the mini kind). Do not pack them in; just let them sit in the cup. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve over pasta tossed with olive oil & parmesan.

Masala is a type of spice mix that is sort of orangey-reddish and smells very nice. It also gives the tiniest bit of yummy kick in the aftertaste of the meatballs, which I like. What else is worth noting… oh, right: I used regular white rice, since it's very easy to make. Also, I received a wonderful little covered ceramic pot for Solstice, with which I can easily make roasted garlic (or brie, or anything else small that I just can't resist roasting) — so GOOD! I used some of that in the recipe, with much pleasure.

I've decided, however, that I'm not going to use my bare hands to mix meat any more. First, when I'm handling meat that I'm not sure is off or not (as I mentioned above), I don't want it all squishing up under my fingernails — yuck! Secondly, I've discovered that snapping on the latex gloves like a mad scientist is way too much fun — and made at least one of the housemates jump guiltily! :)

As often happens when I'm cooking, I made do on several elements. For example, I couldn't find a mini-muffin tray at the grocery store, so I just used a regular sized muffin tray, and gently set no more than two meatballs at a time in each cup. That's also why I used flat egg noodles instead of something like regular spaghetti noodles — which, admittedly, would have been my first choice if I'd had any. Further, I discovered a little too late (as in: I was holding the hot colander of mildly drippy noodles in one hand while fumbling for the bottle with the other) that I was completely out of olive oil! All I had available was sesame or walnut.

The strong scent of sesame oil always makes me think of Chinese cooking, which wasn't what I wanted folks thinking of regarding the meal. Also, I was worried it would be overpowering — a concern that turned out to be needless, I later discovered — so I used the darker, more mildly scented, flavorful walnut oil. Worked very nicely!

Interestingly, as I was spooning out the last of the meatballs into the muffin tray, one of my housemates came in. He tried the meatball I handed him, and made a wonderful suggestion which I integrated into the recipe: add cream of mushroom soup. So what I did — since I wanted to add some veggies to the meal as well — was take a can of cream of mushroom soup, mix in about half a bag of frozen veggies, and nuke it until it was nice and hot and saucy. That made for a very tasty topping to the egg noodles and meatballs, and the housemates ate it all up.

So that's my first completely made-up-on-my-own recipe, and it was quite tasty and well-received. Yay, me! :)

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