Tiny Meatballs

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Extra-virgin olive oil, for cooking and drizzling

1/2 cup grated onion (grated on the large holes of a box grater)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, grated on a rasp grater

1/2 cup bread cubes (small dice)

1/2 cup whole milk

1 pound ground beef or lamb

1 large egg

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch grated nutmeg

All-purpose flour, for dusting

Canola oil, for frying

Torn fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Zest of 1 lemon plus 2 lemons, cut into wedges


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the grated onion and a pinch of salt and cook until the onion begins to release some moisture and soften, about 2 minutes. Add the grated garlic and cook until softened. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  2. Soak the bread in the milk in a small bowl for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Combine the onion and garlic mixture with the ground meat in a large bowl. Add the egg. Squeeze out the bread, discarding the milk, and add the bread to the meat mixture along with the oregano, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients with your hands until they are evenly distributed. Form meatballs right away or cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.
  4. Put some flour in a bowl or pie plate. Form the meat mixture into balls a little bit smaller than golf balls. (This is easier to do with wet hands.) Roll them in the flour, shaking off any excess.
  5. Add enough canola oil to come up a third of the way in a large shallow saute pan or skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, pan-fry the meatballs in batches, turning once, until cooked through but still moist inside, about 5 minutes. (Cut one open if you are unsure of doneness.) Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.
  6. Arrange the meatballs on a serving platter. Grind some fresh pepper over the top, then sprinkle on some torn mint leaves and the lemon zest. Drizzle with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Serve the lemon wedges on the side.
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