lamb cigars

My recipe for meatball-cigars has been waiting in my private recipe archive for a year. Today I gave it a new try in the kitchen, allowing for a few improvements, and here are the results.

Ingredients for two:

– 400g (0.9 lbs) of ground, fresh and wool-smell-free lamb. If you’ve got a meat grinder, try finding assorted bits of lamb-for-cooking, cut the meat off the bones, deep-freeze the latter for some future soup-orgy, and mince the meat. Otherwise, some butchers offer decent (albeit often greasy) minced lamb.
– One cup (preferably risotto-) rice, pre-cooked in water and salt. Leftover rice from yesterday is just as good. Today we even used leftover brown rice – it worked fine.
– One diced onion and one or two chopped garlic cloves
– There is a worldwide dispute going on about whether it is spoonsful or spoonfuls. Ahem. A few teaspoonsfuls of chopped fresh mint leaves, or half a teaspoon of crumbled dried ones
– Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
– Half a teaspoon of ground cumin
– 1/4 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon
– 1 egg
– Olive oil, cream, white wine

Mix all the ingredients (except the oil, the cream and the wine) lengthily and thoroughly. I am actually using the bread kneader of my kitchen assistant for this job – you might have another solution. It is important to get the meat fibres all entangled, to disperse the fat in the egg (or vice-versa) and to blend the spices properly. If the mix stays too soft, you may have to add breadcrumbs. Most of the time it will be the other way round and you can add small amounts of very cold water. Beware of dryness, in other words.

Make nice 6cm (2.3-inch)-long cigars of about 1.5cm (0.6 inches) diameter. Heat the oil to medium hot in a large, heavy-bottom frying pan. Brown the cigars on all sides, turning them at the beginning quite often to prevent them from getting triangular in diameter.

When about 3/4 done, add half a glass of dry white wine, scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to dissolve the cooking residue and cover the pan, reducing the heat somewhat. Cook for about eight minutes; turn the meatballs once after four minutes.

Add a healthy dash of cream. Stir and cover again, cooking for approximately another four minutes.

Transfer the lamb cigars into a waiting bowl, raise the heat to high and reduce the cream sauce until it thickens. Pour the sauce over the cigars.


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