Recipe Index

Portuguese | Mini Lamb Meatballs

Posted on March 2, 2018

When I make this, I cut the meatball part of the recipe in half and leave the sauce part whole and it's plenty for us. The recipe below is for the whole recipe. We love these!

Yield: 6 as a main, 12 as an appetizer

mini lamb meatballs


For the Meatballs

2 pounds lean ground lamb

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs or panko

1 large egg, beaten

3 garlic cloves, minced or microplaned

2 tablespoons peeled, grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 tablespoon sweet paprika / Spanish or Portuguese preferred

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed


For the Sauce

1 large yellow onion, minced

1 Turkish bay leaf

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth

kosher salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


Combine the lamb, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, ginger, zest, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Wet your hands and knead the mixture, but don't over mix. Scoop up 1/2 tablespoon of the mixture, roll it into a ball between your palms, and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the meatballs, in 3 or 4 batches, and cook, shaking the pan often to prevent sticking, until evenly browned, 3 to 5 minutes, or until done. Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon. If too much fat accumulates in the pan between batches, drain it before continuing.

After the last batch of meatballs has cooked, drain off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet. If the pan is dry, drizzle in more oil. Add the onion and bay leaf and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown, about 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Sprinkle in the flour, cumin, and cinnamon and stir until the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Splash in the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has almost gone away, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beef stock and cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer to thicken the sauce a bit more, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf.

Return the meatballs, along with any accumulated juices, to the skillet and stir to coat. Continue to simmer, lid ajar, until the meatballs are heated through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.


(Ref. "Mini Lamb Meatballs" recipe, The New Portuguese Table, page 150.)