Madroña's Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Pine Nut and Fresh Herb Couscous

These lamb meatballs pair perfectly with Madroña’s 2010 Hillside Zinfandel. The young Zin is tamed immediately with the introduction of the Mediterranean spices, making the wine wonderfully soft and alluring. The hint of heat in the spices, is framed by the fresh fruit of the Zin.

Servings: 4-6

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Pair With: Madroña’s 2010 Hillside Zinfandel

Source: Recipe and photo courtesy Chef Sandra Smile and Madroña winery.


Ingredients For the Middle Eastern Spice Mix
2 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
2 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Ingredients For the Meatballs
2 1/2 cups of fresh bread cut into 2" cubes--press down lightly (about 4 slices, crust trimmed)
2 1/3 cup chicken stock
1 pound of ground lamb
3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced or grated
1/2 cup minced red onion
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
5 teaspoons of the Middle Eastern spice mix (recipe above), in two parts
1 large egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup of finely chopped shallots or red onion
11/2 tablespoon flour
 Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients For the Couscous
11/2 cups water
1 scant cup couscous
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel
2 tablespoon of lightly toasted pine nuts


Directions For the Middle Eastern Spice Mix
Mix well and store in an air tight jar. Make sure your spices are fresh...if they don't have a strong scent they are probably too old to use.

Directions For the Meatballs
Place the bread cubes in a bowl and sprinkle 1/3 cup of the chicken stock over them. (The rest of the stock is for the sauce). Toss to coat evenly with your hands, working the stock into the bread, let sit for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess stock, if there is any, and put in a bowl with the lamb, garlic, red onion, parsley, thyme, 3 teaspoon spice mix, egg and salt and combine thoroughly. Shape into twelve 1 1⁄2" to 2" balls. Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel skillet till hot over medium high heat, add the meatballs and cook, gently turning to brown all sides. Don't overcook; you will be simmering them for another 10 minutes in the sauce. Do not let the skillet burn. Take the skillet off the heat and remove the meatballs to a 3" x 5" deep saucepan or casserole just big enough to hold them all in one layer. Leave 2 tablespoons of fat in the skillet. If there is excess, remove it with a spoon and discard.

Put the skillet back on the heat; add the shallots or red onion and sauté over medium heat for a few minutes scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the flour, stirring well with a whisk, then add 2 tablespoons of the spice mix and cook for 1 minute more. Slowly whisk in the hot stock. Simmer for a few minutes till slightly thickened, then add the meatballs. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 5 minutes, turn the meatballs over in the sauce and cook 5 minutes more. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper and serve immediately or take off the lid, cool completely and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Re-heat gently and serve hot.

Directions For the Couscous
While the meatballs are cooking, make the couscous by bringing the water to a boil and adding the couscous, herbs and lemon peel. Stir and then reduce the heat to a very low simmer for 1 minute. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff gently with a large fork and sprinkle with the pine nuts.

Touring & Tasting adds new wine pairing recipes every week. Check back for tasty new recipes to pair with wine!

Sign up for our free eNewletter and receive a new recipe weekly.

Recipe Courtesy Of

Madroña Vineyards

Paul and his wife Maggie of Madroña Vineyards continue the Old World winemaking practices Paul’s father began.