Coriander (Cilantro) Meatballs

>> Thursday, July 7, 2011

Before anything else, I just want to say this was the reason why I gave up eating lamb for a long period in my life:

We were on a family trip in Rotorua (New Zealand!) at some sheep farm and there happened to be a  bottle feeding session for the lambs.

The moment my lamb latched on to the milk bottle, my maternal instinct (can you be too young to have these instincts?) kicked in and I wanted to take Mary it home and look after the lamb for the rest of its life. After I was told that this was not a possibility, I swore that I'd never eat lamb ever again right there and then as my parents dragged me out of the farm.

Well today...this may sound terrible after that story but I now eat lamb (that's another story...) I especially love lamb cutlets! Hmmmm. But I'd never cooked it at home...until now.

What made me take this umm 'brave' step forward?

A few months ago I became involved in the Stephane Reynaud's 365 challenge initiated by publisher Murdoch books. The aim of the challenge is invite all keen cooks to help them cook through the book: 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat  (one recipe for each day of the year!)

(On a side note, I got to say I quite like this cookbook. There are photos for every single recipe - yes all 365 of them, and I have cooked through several other recipes in there which turned out great.)

For my involvement I picked to cook Coriander (Cilantro) Meatballs - just because it would be nice to finally feature the ingredient my blog is named after in this space!

Hey look, say hi to green cilantro everyone:

However it only occurred to me as I setting out the ingredients for this dish that these meatballs are actually made of leftover leg of lamb! And I had thought they were ordinary meatballs! Since in my home we hardly ever have lamb of any sorts leftover so I got to roast a leg of lamb for the first time in my life too :) 

After the leg is roasted, the rest is super simple - just blitzing together the lamb leg, a bunch of coriander, eschalots, chives, bread (I didn't have white sandwich bread so I had to use seeded wholemeal), cream, eggs, and some cumin. And you're pretty much set.

Oh and after you roll the mixture into balls with your palms, you then need to greet your guests with unwashed hands (as instructed in the recipe by cheeky Stéphane!)

The sauce around the meatballs is a simple combination of tomatoes (I used canned), capsicums and white wine.

Couldn't resist eating one...

The verdict? These meatballs are so tender and as you bite into it the flavours of the coriander and cumin comes through beautifully complimented (but not overpowered) by the simple tomato sauce. It is a bit like a warm and comforting hug on a cold (and sick) day.

I can't wait to try more of Stéphane's recipes - I find that they're easy to follow and whip up, and so tasty too! You'll be seeing more of them in this space, that's for sure!

Coriander Meatballs
Serves 6 (I halved the recipe)
  • 3 French shallots (eschalots)
  • 1 bunch of coriander (cilantro!)
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) left over roast lamb leg
  • 200mL (7fl oz) pouring (whipping) cream
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) soft white sandwich bread (I used seeded wholewheat)
  • 1 tbsl cumin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 bunch of chives, snipped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 red capsicum (pepper)
  • 1 green capsicum (pepper)
  •  2 tomatoes (I used 1 canned diced tomatoes)
  • 250mL (9 fl oz/1cup) white wine
1. Preheat the oven to 160C (315 F)

2. Peel and slice the shallots.

3. Pick the coriander leaves. Process the leftover lamb with the cream, bread, coriander and cumin. Add the eggs, shallots and chives, then season.

4. Make meatballs (by rubbing dry hands with flour, take a tbsp of mixture and roll it between the palms of your hands), place them into a gratin dish.

5. Dice the capsicums and tomatoes, place them around the meatballs, add the wine.

6. Bake for 30 minutes.

And in case you're wondering, I still find lambs very cute and wouldn't mind having one as a pet.

I hope you have a blessed day :)


grub July 7, 2011 at 9:30 PM  

heehee the lamb photo was cute xD
hrm i must have skipped this recipe while i was flicking through the book when i saw coriander and cumin (i don't like them)

i love the photography in the book though, simple and yummy :)

Maris (In Good taste) July 7, 2011 at 9:58 PM  

They look scrumptious! The lamb photo is adorable and kind of made me feel bad for the lambs, til I saw the finished product!

Erika Beth, the Messy Chef July 8, 2011 at 1:21 AM  

Ha! I love your lamb story. Glad you are enjoying it again. BTW, "Hi Green Cilantro!" (See? I do what I'm told.) :)

Karen July 8, 2011 at 3:35 AM  

Hope you're feeling much better and have recovered from your nasty cold! Those meatballs look scrumptious - I love how they have cilantro in them instead of the usual parsley. Great recipe! :-)

GratefulPrayerThankfulHeart July 8, 2011 at 8:57 AM  

Sounds like a nice combination of herbs ~ especially the coriander :) The colorful peppers and tomato look appetizing around the lamb balls.

sugarpuffi July 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM  

omg u terrible, terrible person! jkjk<3 i dont judge ahaha! nice to see u doing a 'brave step forward' in cooking lamb! the meatballs looks awesome :D

Von July 8, 2011 at 9:05 PM  

Ngaww....the lamb looks so cute! Does anyone keep lambs as pets?? But the meatballs look delicious too :) I've never had meatballs like these....they sound really good!

PFx July 8, 2011 at 11:25 PM  

To be honest with you Viv, I kinda hesitate to be amused by your blog at the start because... well I hate cilantro. An Asian who hates coriander?!?!
Yea... BUt! I am slowly learning the necessity of cilantro in a dish, I like them cooked as a murky depth in the background of a great Asian soup.

As for the maternal instinct of baby lamb in NZ, I understand you totally. Being a training doc, I examine newborn (minutes old) babies in the hospital and one way to stop them crying is to put a sterile finger in their mouth to suck on. That suction stimulation on your fingers... just brings out the natural instinct to start a family...
As for this recipe, I will hold on that much coriander ;) But I love lamb!

Julie July 8, 2011 at 11:27 PM  

great recipe but the lamb ruined it :P. hehe nuuu stop eating lamb *hits*

Lisa @ Tarte du Jour July 9, 2011 at 11:14 PM  

Viv- I had to laugh... I didn't eat lamb for the first half of my life either because my favorite stuffed animal was a lamb. Theses meatballs look fabulous and flavorful! And hurray that "cilantro" is in the title!

Jayanthy Kumaran July 10, 2011 at 3:11 AM  

that looks super good...fantastic clicks..
Tasty Appetite

Aizi July 10, 2011 at 10:11 PM  

hi coriander!
Stephane Reynaud is just great isn t he? you should take a look at his other books... they just make you want to live in the French countryside and cook away...
i couldn t live without meat, or veggies, or herbs, or spices, or fruit...
once again, love your step by step pics as well ;-)

Anonymous,  July 11, 2011 at 1:32 AM  

I can totally understand how you could go lamb-less; just looking at that cute lamb butt got me going Awwwww! :P

Love the colours in this dish btw :)

Anonymous,  July 11, 2011 at 2:15 PM  

It's midnight right now. It's not a good thing that I'm totally craving these right now!

Joanne July 11, 2011 at 9:54 PM  

Lamb is the one meat I never ate growing up and now the one meat that I actually miss as an adult (now that I've stopped eating meat). SO. GOOD.

These meatballs must be amazing!

Kazia Jankowski July 12, 2011 at 3:37 AM  

These look scrumptious. It took me until adulthood to be able to eat lamb as well :)

Joyti July 12, 2011 at 9:07 AM  

Funny story...I guess you could say I'm regressing in a way since I became a vegetarian! I ate very little (white) meat before, so it was an easy step.
Its interesting how our palettes and food associations change. Your lamb balls sound good...good luck to you on discovering more yummy lamb dishes.

Cynthia July 12, 2011 at 9:27 AM  

Lamb meatballs - heavenly.

Yi @ Yi Reservation July 12, 2011 at 2:07 PM  

I've never made lamb meatballs before but those look super delicious! Gotta make it when it gets colder here (I normally eat lamb in the winter).

The recipe reminds me of another lamb dish called doner kebab which also uses cilantro, bread, lamb, and other ingredients. Yum!

Lori July 15, 2011 at 12:38 PM  

I struggle with eating lamb and goat for the same reason. I grew up with them as pets and my parents still have goats. Goat I can live without, but I really wish I didn't like lamb so much. These meatballs are outstanding. I bet they have a wonderful flavor.

Maureen July 20, 2011 at 9:25 AM  

I love this post and the meatballs look fantastic. I've always made my lamb meatballs from lamb mince - who knew I could have used leftovers. Yay!

Forager @ The Gourmet Forager July 22, 2011 at 6:34 PM  

What a cute photo! Have you tried more lamb since? Sometimes I find it a bit more smelly and gamey than others (more mutton like) so glad you didn't get that experience the first time you had lamb again or it might have put you right off!

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