Chef Seamus Mullen serves these robustly flavored meatballs as a shared plate at El Colmado, his New York City tapas bar, but they’re also a great main dish. Making the sauce and the meatballs is time-intensive, but we promise the complexity of the flavors is worth it in the end!
- A spice mill or mortar and pestle
- 3 pasilla chiles, seeds removed, chopped
- 1.5 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 small onion, chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, 7 chopped and 1 clove finely grated
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
- 3/4 tsp fennel seeds
- 3/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp kosher salt, plus more
- 1 large egg
- 1.25 lb White Oak Pastures Grassfed, Pasture-raised ground lamb
- 1 tbsp rice flour or all-purpose flour
- 4-5 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1/2 English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1.5 tbsp Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup plain sheep's milk or cow's whole milk yogurt
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- Crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)
- Toast chiles, red pepper flakes, and cumin seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and cumin seeds are golden, about 3 minutes. Let cool.
- Working in batches, finely grind in spice mill, then transfer to a blender.
- Add vinegar, paprika, and garlic to blender and blend until smooth. With motor running, gradually stream oil and blend until combined.
- Transfer to large bowl; season with salt.
Do Ahead: Chile sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Meatballs and Assembly
- Pulse onion, chopped garlic, parsley, oregano, sage, fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, and 1 tbsp salt in a food processor, scrapping down sides as needed, until finely chopped.
- Add egg, lamb, and flour and pulse until evenly combined.
- Form lamb mixture into 1½” balls.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high.
- Cook meatballs, working in 2 batches and adding another 1 tbsp oil to skillet if needed. Turn occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 5-8 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towels to drain.
- Transfer all meatballs to bowl with chile sauce and toss to coat.
- Toss cucumber in a medium bowl with lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining 2 tbsp oil; season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon yogurt into bowls. Evenly divide meatballs among bowls; top with dressed cucumber and mint and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.