Merguez meatballs baked in split yoghurt
Dan Wilson, chef and part-owner of Dandy — a small light-filled restaurant near London Fields in Hackney, serving simple, seasonal dishes and natural wines — shows us how to cheat our way to rich, spiced lamb meatballs baked in thick, split yoghurt. Using lemon juice to split the yoghurt before baking forces the most basic cheese-making process (similar to the way paneer is made), turning the silken smooth substance into something that has a bit of texture and responds better to baking, while still remaining wet enough to become a great sauce to be mopped up with bread.
Dan says about this recipe:
This is one of those Tuesday night dinners, a quick fix but much more delicious than pasta bake. For the lamb balls I like to use lamb merguez sausage meat. It tends to be delicately spiced with chilli and aromats, squeezing it out of the sausage is a cinch and much easier than spicing lamb mince yourself. I usually use the lamb merguez sausage meat from H.G Walter in west London. They will sell it to you just as mince and it is so tightly ground the meatballs won’t lose any moisture in cooking. Otherwise, any butcher or supermarket in a part of town that has a high North African or Middle Eastern population will usually sell some variation on merguez or spiced lamb sausage.
Serves 2-3 people — Prep takes 10 minutes — Cooking takes 20 minutes
6 Lamb sausages (if using merguez, otherwise 4 regular size)
500gr natural or greek yoghurt
1 lemon (juiced)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon of coriander powder
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (for cooking)
1 tea spoon of EVOO for dressing
Small nasturtium leaves - to serve.
Preheat the oven to 180* C. While the oven is heating up, roll the lamb meat into balls weighing roughly 50gr each.
In a medium sized pan over heat, add the vegetable oil and then the meatballs. Cook the meatballs over medium heat until browned and coloured on each side.
Add the yoghurt to the pan with the lemon juice and the butter. Bring to the boil and allow the yoghurt to spilt.
Add the spice, stir in and place in the oven.
Cook for 15 minutes.
Place the meatballs with the yogurt into a bowl, dress with EVOO and nasturtiums to serve.
Dan served ours with some yoghurt flatbreads he'd made that morning (we're still extracting the recipe for these from his brain) but you could serve with any bread that has the ability to mop up sauce. We've had success with flatbreads store-bought from the Turkish supermarket and also a robust sourdough.