Don’t like Lamb? Here’s my Secret Ingredient that transformed it from “baaaahhh,” to “aaaahhh!”

Beef / October 9, 2015

Titles are everything, apparently. Especially when you think of the oft maligned prune, which now is simply referred to as a dried plum. I guess the people who renamed it don’t understand that prunes are the most sweet, versatile, nutritious snack ever. But then the whole, ‘Rose by Any Other Name’ thing comes to mind and I get it. We’re PRUDISH about PRUNES.

If you’re a cook, though, you don’t look at the name of an ingredient first, you consider the composition of it:  Protein, fibrous, sweet, sour, savory. Is it moist, is it crunchy, what happens when heat gets to it, or cold for that matter. Does it help bind the food you’re making or does it need a binder. You know, your garden-variety nerdy cook questions. I guess that’s why turning to prunes to make my lamb meatballs more moist and flavorful seemed so very, very logical. So I had to do a double-take when my diners were surprised.

Pleasantly I might add. I have proudly recruited two new lamb-lovers with my dish. And when paired with a spicy Zinfandel, the evening was quite a “success.” A word when repacked means, “totally awesome.”


Sweet Lamb Meatballs with Plums, with a Citrus Mint Glaze

With Cucumber Mint Cous Cous

The addition of dried plums or prunes into the ground lamb gives them a subtle sweetness as well as adding tenderness and a beautifully caramelized color.

Serves 4


1 lb organic ground lamb
1/3 C white sweet onion chopped finely
3 finely minced cloves of garlic
8 prunes, chopped
1 egg
½ t ground coriander powder
Dash of nutmeg
Kosher Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 T freshly chopped mint leaves, divided
½ C orange marmalade
¼ C dry red wine
¼ C sweet white balsamic vinegar (I used a cranberry pear)
1 T honey
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T oil


  • Combine first 9 ingredients, lamb through the mint using only 1 ½T of the mint for the meatballs. I used about ½ t salt and ¼ t pepper. Thoroughly combine, form into 1 ½ inch balls. Heat a large skillet and add oil. Brown meatballs quickly, searing the outside but not cooking all the way through. Remove and put on a plate. Keep warm by covering with foil. Reduce heat to medium.
  • Add the lemon juice and wine, and scrape the bits of meat into the acids to combine and deglaze the pan. Add the marmalade, white balsamic, honey and a little more salt and stir to combine and cook, bubbling, for about 2 minutes. Put the meatballs back into the pan, turn to combine, cover almost all the pan with the lid, and let simmer for about 3 more minutes to cook the meat balls the rest of the way.
  • Plate by serving with couscous flavored at the end of the cooking with ½ chopped cucumber and 1 t of fresh mint. I also added a small salad of greens dressed with lemon and oil, as well as a serving of roasted parsnips. Use the rest of the mint for garnish.

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