Serves 6-8 as an appetizer
These small meatballs pack a punch that will leave your guests kicking for more. The natural gaminess of lamb is ushered forth with a hint of smoke and spice that melts in your mouth as it gets tangled in a briny herbaceous aioli. By cutting the lamb’s leanness with ground pork, the polpettini remain tender after they’re cooked. The lemon, oregano, and olive in the aioli act as an antioxidant bath that protects you and your guests from any of the potential ill effects from the meat.
Meatballs are easy to make and take the fuss out of preparing for dinner guests while offering an elegant surprise when skewered. You can prep the base of the ingredients before hand and even form the polpettini the night before the party. The aioli can be made within a few hours of serving. Cook the balls right before serving. Unless it is a cold night, for convenience you can serve the polpettini at room temperature once they are cooked.
¾ pound ground grass fed lamb
½ pound ground pasture-raised pork
1 teaspoon Pimenton de la Vera
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon Calabrian chili, finely chopped
2 tablespoons green garlic or regular garlic, bloomed out
½-1 teaspoon salt, to taste
Oregano and Olive Infused Aioli
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (reserve ¼ cup of this oil to bloom out the oregano and olive)
1 tablespoon oregano, chopped and bloomed
1 tablespoon green olives, chopped
¼ parsley, chopped
1. Place all of the ingredients listed under the polpettini section above in a stainless steel bowl. Wash your hands or use gloves, and then gently mix all of the ingredients together.
2. Form small meatballs with the mixture.
3. Place the meatballs on a lightly oiled sheet tray and set them in the refrigerator to set for about two hours.
4. In the meantime make the aioli*.
5. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Place the balls in the oven and roast them until they just cooked through, about 15 minutes.
7. While the balls are still warm, drive a wooden skewer in to hold each one.
8. Place the aioli in a small bowl, arrange the polpettini around the aioli, and sprinkle parsley over the top of the balls and aioli.
1. Place the chopped oregano and olives in a small stainless steel pan with about ¼ cup of the olive oil.
2. Gently heat the oregano and olive oil just so the oil becomes scented with the aromatics.
3. Let the infused oil cool while you prepare the aioli base.
4. Place the egg yolk, a pinch of salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a stainless steel bowl.
5. Briefly whisk these ingredients until smooth and let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes.
6. Very slowly, drop by drop, add the olive oil without the oregano and olives while vigorously whisking the lemon-yolk mixture. It helps to curb the bowl with a damp towel to keep it in place while you whisk.
7. After the uninfused oil is incorporated into the egg mixture, drop by drop whisk in the oregano and olive infused oil.
8. After all of the oil has been whisked in, taste the aioli and add salt or a little lemon juice to balance the sauce as needed.