Moroccan-Style Meatballs to Ring in the New Year

Did everyone have a nice holiday? There's still one big celebration around the corner, and the question is how will you ring in the New Year? Will it be a glamorous bash streaming with glitter and bubbly champagne? Or will it be a quiet evening made special by the company of good food and the ones you love?

For me it will be the latter. On the menu will be a simple but special duck confit, black eyed peas, collard greens and these Moroccan-styled meatballs for appetizers. These meatballs are a combination of sweet warm cinnamon with domineering cumin spice, caramelized onions and mint and parsley herbs. Fresh, bold flavors that round each other out and together stand up well against the strong flavors of lamb.

This is probably the first Moroccan-style dish I have made, and a revelation of what I have been missing these years. After tasting the tantalizing spices and herbs together I am so inspired that I am going to look into more Moroccan recipes.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

Moroccan-Style Meatballs
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Hors d'Oeuvre, by Brigit L. Binns
These meatballs are delicious alone or could be served with a cool cucumber-dill yogurt sauce. This recipe also works well to create mini hamburgers on brioche mini buns.
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed through a press
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 2 Tablespoons fine dried bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • Lemon wedges for squeezing and garnish
  • About 42 cocktail picks (optional)
  1. Lightly oil a shallow-rimmed baking sheet.
  2. In a fry pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
  3. Add the lamb, garlic, eggs, parsley, chopped mint, bread crumbs, cumin, cinnamon, the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper to the bowl with the onion. Combine the ingredients thoroughly with your hands (the only way to evenly distribute the ingredients). Fry a small pinch of the mixture, taste, and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into balls about the size of a walnut, rolling them very lightly in the palms of your hands. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Preheat a broiler. Place the meatballs about 4 inches from the heat source and broil, turning once with tongs, until brown and crispy on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove the baking sheet from the broiler and transfer the meatballs to a platter.
  5. Squeeze some lemon juice over the meatballs and arrange the remaining lemon wedges and mint sprigs on the platter. Using a cocktail pick, skewer each meatball. Serve immediately. Makes about 42 warm bites.
Note: The meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before cooking. Remove them from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking. If desired, cook and cool the meatballs, refrigerate them for up to 4 hours, and then reheat in a 350°F oven until heated through, 10 to 20 minutes.


Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

Those bowls of spices look GORGEOUS! I'll be staying in on NYE and cooking for loved ones as well. My menu thus far include Thai-style steamed mussels, chicken and sausage gumbo, homemade biscuits...and dessert, which is TBD. Happy New Year!

Velva said...

Happy New Year to you. I think our family is taking the latter too-enjoying a good meal at home.

We have cooking Club in January and our theme is Moroccan. I am excited about the new flavor combinations that I will be discovering.

Your meatballs look divine.


Belinda @zomppa said...

I am SO not ready for new year's. 2012 is looking great with these!!

Megan said...

I don't think I've made any Moroccan dishes, but these meatballs sound like a great place to start!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I love Moroccan dishes and have a recipe that is similar but is make into patties and put on skewers. Yours sound much easier. It sounds like you have planned a wonderful meal. Have a Happy New Year.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely photo of spices Christine. Did you take that when you were in Provence? Your meatballs sound delicious with all of the spices and we are a "love lamb" family.

Happy new year to you. We are going to a party at the pool house in our condo. No driving, just taking the elevator. Sounds safe to me.

Mari @ Mari's Cakes said...

I had a nice Christmas, thanks :) I am sure you had an adorable one with your little angel.

The meatballs look fantastic I am sure they taste as delicious as they look.

Have a great New Year!

Pam said...

I love the flavors in these!

Nisrine M. said...

Nothing better than a Moroccan dish to start the new year, if you ask me :)

It looks absolutely delicious!

Lizzy Do said...

Oh, your meatballs look outstanding! I'm definitely making something similar in the coming weeks~

Claudia said...

And now I know what to do with my ground lamb! Perfect. Happy New Year - may 2012 bring you joy!

vianney said...

These look wonderful!! I really need to venture more into morocan dishes! thank you for sharing, Happy New Year!!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I vote for the small, intimate, and tasty gathering as well! Love the warm spices of Morocco, and these meatballs would be perfect for a New Year's night at home. All the best to you and your family for 2012!

tasteofbeirut said...

Yum! Love these meatballs and the idea of guloing them down with some great wine! Happy holidays and New Year!

Trix said...

So glad you've started cooking with Moroccan spices! Aren't they fabulous? These meatballs look scrumptious!

El said...

Lovely dish. I can't get over the beautiful spice photo. I love the rich, vibrant colors. Hope you have a very Happy New Year!

Francesca said...

Yummy, they look so good! I am following you from Rome! Happy Holidays! The baby is so cute!!!

kyleen said...

These meatballs look delicious! My family loves meatballs, especially my brothers, so my mom makes a lot of them. So far we've tried Italian and Swedish meatballs. I'll have to get my mom to try these.

nancy at good food matters said...

Happy New Year to you, Christine. We are celebrating in similar fashion--at home with a few good friends and good food. Your Moroccan-styled meatballs look exceptional. It is indeed a revelation when you experiment with different spicing profiles.
I can tell from your posts below that you had a wonderful Christmas with Alex.
Best to you in 2012,

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I think meatballs are the new cupcakes in terms of popularity. These sound delicious! Happy New Year, Christine!

lisa is cooking said...

I have that Williams Sonoma book, and now I'm inspired to pull it off the shelf again. These meatballs look perfect for a New Year's celebration. Happy New Year to you!

Kay @ The Church Cook said...

These look wonderful, Christine! And how do you prepare collard greens? Just curious to see if you cook the good ol' Southern way or some other method. :) Happy New Year to you and your lovely family!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Thank you everyone for your kind comments.
@Sam - the picture was taken in New York at a street market.

@Kay - For collard greens, I roll up the leaves and slice thinly and saute in a bit of garlic and olive oil.

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

The meatballs sound wonderful! So does your entire menu!

Wishing you a happy & healthy 2012!

lostpastremembered said...

I am with you, love the spices. The food perfumes your mouth when you eat it... how cool is that? Sometimes, you even smell of it... who says you are what you eat? So true with lots of spices. This is a great little recipe.

Happy New Year to you!

Lori said...

Those meatballs sound delicious! It will be a quiet night here. We enjoy staying in for New Years unless we are traveling. Typically I like to cook, but I may hold off for Sunday this year and do some pizza and local craft beer to ring in 2012. Happy New Year!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Your menu sounds wonderful, Christine. I love all the flavors you have combined in this tasty dish. I can almost taste little mini burgers with a bit of yogurt sauce. Best wishes for a very Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family.

Joanne said...

Lamb is the one meat I miss and it's because of spice combinations/foods like this. This sound perfectly flavored!

I hope you have a lovely new year, Christine!

Magic of Spice said...

Look at all of those glorious spices! A lovely appetizer indeed :)
Wishing you an amazing 2012!

OysterCulture said...

I love Moroccan food and do not make it nearly enough. You have me inspired.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

These look delightful. Yum.

Amy said...

I've been loving Moroccan spices lately and these look great!