While I’ve made my fair share of mayonnaise, salad dressing and even ketchup over the years, there are quite a few condiments that I have never tried to make myself — things like curry paste, mustard and harissa. While I’ve been curious to try my hand at these, in the end laziness and convenience have always won out.
However, a recent recipe for homemade harissa from my friends of Gourmandistan piqued my interest. It seemed like a fun challenge and I was curious to taste the end result.
The whole process seemed more daunting than it turned out to be and in less than 20 minutes I had a beautifully smokey and spicy spread. I should confess that I have a deep hatred for caraway (something my husband seems to find equally baffling and entertaining) so I’ll straight up admit I omitted it, but the garlicky mixture of cumin, peppers and tomato was still finger-licking good.
Originally I planned to serve the harissa with chicken, much like Michelle and Steve did in their post. But then I got side tracked and my chicken turned into a cashew stir-fry instead. It was a delicious decision at the time but the next morning, staring at my bowl of untouched harissa, I knew I needed to devise a new game plan.
At work, I mulled over various options with my friend Breezy. Brushing the idea of poultry aside, we pondered the possibilities of lamb, which is known to pair beautifully with spicy spreads like harissa. From there we moved on to lamb meatballs, spiced with harissa and served with a slightly creamy harissa sauce.
It sounded like a match made in heaven.
I started by sautéing minced onion, garlic and sweet potato until tender. Then I added the mixture to my ground lamb, seasoning it liberally with salt, pepper and harissa. As always, I cooked off a small “test ball” to check the seasoning and added a bit more harissa until I was satisfied. So far, so good!
I seared the balls in a large skillet with a touch of coconut oil until they were brown on all sides and perfectly pink in the center. The sauce was made a bit on a whim — a mixture of more harissa, stock and enough coconut milk to make it creamy — but it worked out great.
Served solo or alongside some Jasmine or cauliflower rice, these balls are sure to please!
Harissa Spiced Lamb Meatballs
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1-2 TB coconut oil, butter or olive oil
- 1/4 cup onions, minced
- 1/4 cup sweet potato, peeled and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-4 TB harissa (homemade or store bought)
- 1/4 cup or so stock, vegetable or chicken
- Coconut milk or cream
- 2-3 TB parsley, minced
Sauté onions, sweet potato and garlic until vegetables are tender. (note: make sure the vegetables are really soft because there isn’t much additional cooking time.) Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
Add vegetable mixture and 1-2 TB harissa to meat, gently fold in and season with salt and pepper. Cook off a small piece to taste, adjust season as desired. Harissa will vary in strength so you may need more or less depending on your taste.
Once meatball mixture is ready, form balls. You can go small if you like, I went for about a 1.5-2 oz ball, resulting in around 14 total.
Sear balls in a bit of oil over medium high heat, turning so all sides get crispy and brown. Cook until done (I prefer my ground lamb to be medium but it’s up to you).
Remove balls, drain any excess fat. Add 1-2 TBS harissa to pan along with a slug of stock. Bring to a simmer, add a dash of cream or coconut milk. Adjust until it makes you happy. If you want more spice, add more harissa. If it’s too thick, add stock. If you want it more velvety, add cream or coconut milk.
Serve balls with sauce, garnish with parsley.