Adrienne Cheatham's Spicy Lamb Meatballs

With a warm chili spice called berbere.

Adrienne Cheatham's Spicy Lamb Meatballs
2 Medium red onions, roughly chopped
3 Garlic cloves
1 Piece of fresh ginger, 1/2 inch, peeled & sliced
3 tbsp Berbere spice mix
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1/4 cup Red wine
1 lb Ground lamb
1/2 cup Toasted pine nuts
2/3 cup Crumbled feta cheese, plus more for serving
1 Can crushed tomatoes, 14.5 oz
1/4 cup Chopped raisins (or whole currants)
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Place the onions, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and pulse until chopped small but still chunky, 5 or 6 pulses.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the onion mixture and the berbere, season with a couple of pinches of salt, and stir to incorporate. Cook until the moisture has cooked out and the onions begin to brown in places, about 3 minutes. Add the red wine to the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the wine is absorbed/evaporated and the excess moisture is cooked out, about 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Put the ground lamb in a mixing bowl and add half of the cooked onion mixture, leaving the rest of the mixture in the pan. I prefer to use my hands for the next step. With or without gloves is up to you (no judgment), but feel free to use a spoon or spatula instead. Stir the lamb and onion mixture together, add a couple of pinches of salt, and really make sure you get it thoroughly combined. Fold in the crumbled feta.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scoop the lamb mixture into 2-tablespoon portions and roll them between your palms to make them nice and evenly round (dampen your hands as needed to keep the meat from getting sticky). Place the balls on the foil-lined sheet (I’m kinda OCD about straight lines). It’s okay to have them close together or just barely touching. Pop in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Heat the broiler to high and position an oven rack about 2 inches from the heat source. Broil the meatballs until the tops are browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat the remaining onion mixture in the pan over medium-high heat and add the tomatoes and raisins. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Pour any juices from the meatball tray into the pan, stir to incorporate, and cook for 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

When ready to serve, bring the sauce to a simmer and fold in the meatballs. Add a splash of water if the sauce has gotten too dry, and let everything simmer until the meatballs are heated through, about 10 minutes (longer if they’ve been refrigerated).

Serve with couscous. Garnish with cilantro and more feta.

Berbere-Spiced Lamb Meatballs, from "Sunday Best" by Adrienne Cheatham, with Sarah Zorn