Greek Lamb Meatballs with Cauliflower Rice from ‘Paleo Perfected’

Every week, Yahoo Food spotlights a cookbook that stands out from the rest. This week’s cookbook is Paleo Perfected: A Revolution in Eating Well with 150 Kitchen-Tested Recipes by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen). Read more about Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week here.


Photograph by Carl Tremblay

By the editors at America’s Test Kitchen

Greek Lamb Meatballs with Cauliflower Rice
Serves 4

Why This Recipe Works: Meatballs are a surefire crowd pleaser, so we decided to develop a recipe with a Greek spin, using ground lamb seasoned with mint and dill. To make them paleo, we replaced the typical panade—a paste made from bread and milk that’s used to keep ground meat moist—with boiled and pureed cashews. The mild-tasting cashew paste helped to bind the meatballs and keep them tender without interfering with the meatballs’ flavor. We made our lamb meatballs a little smaller than traditional Italian-style meatballs, and browned them well to enhance their savory flavor and render away some of their fat. Since these meatballs were so flavorful on their own, we decided not to douse them in sauce. Instead, we wanted to let them shine by serving them on a bed of cauliflower rice. To give the dish a unified flavor profile, we sautéed the cauliflower in some of the fat rendered from the meatballs, and seasoned the rice with more mint and dill. A splash of lemon juice and some zest added brightness and acidity to the cauliflower rice, which perfectly balanced the richness of the meatballs. We prefer to use homemade chicken broth; however, you can substitute your favorite store-bought broth. This recipe calls for a 12-inch nonstick skillet; however, a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet can be used instead. You can substitute 85 percent lean ground beef for the lamb.

½ cup raw cashews
1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into 1-inch florets (6 cups)
1 ½ pounds ground lamb
1 small red onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and pepper
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup Paleo Chicken Broth (see below)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

Bring 4 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cashews and cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Meanwhile, working in 2 batches, pulse cauliflower in food processor until finely ground into ¼- to 1/8-inch pieces, 6 to 8 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed; set aside.

Process boiled cashews in now-empty food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as needed; transfer to large bowl. Add ground lamb, onion, 1 tablespoon mint, 1 tablespoon dill, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and knead with your hands until well combined. Pinch off and roll mixture into 1 ½-inch meatballs (you should have 24 meatballs).

Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Brown meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes; transfer to plate.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add processed cauliflower, broth, lemon zest and juice, and 1 teaspoon salt. Nestle browned meatballs into skillet along with any accumulated juices. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until cauliflower is tender and meatballs are cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.

Uncover and continue to cook until cauliflower rice is almost completely dry, about 3 minutes. Off heat, sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon mint and remaining 1 tablespoon dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with lemon wedges.

Paleo Chicken Broth
Makes about 8 cups

Why This Recipe Works: This rich and well-rounded chicken broth is perfect for use across a wide range of paleo recipes-—as a base for soups, stews, and sauces; as a cooking medium; and even on its own. Many recipes for chicken stock call for simmering a whole chicken, but we found that cutting the chicken into pieces yielded more flavor by providing more surface area for browning. We tested a variety of vegetables to round out our broth and found that onion enhanced the chicken flavor while also imparting a gentle sweetness. Chopping and then sautéing the onion in the pot after browning the chicken helped concentrate the onion’s flavor. We simmered pots of broth from 1 to 24 hours, and tasters agreed that at 4 hours, our broth had the best flavor—a deep, well-rounded chicken base with a slightly aromatic sweetness. After 8 hours, the broth began to taste slightly metallic, and further cooking gave way to bitter, harsh, and even burnt tones. If using a slow cooker, you will need one that holds 5 1/2 to 7 quarts. You can reserve the separated chicken fat in step 4 and substitute it in savory recipes where olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee are called for.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds whole chicken legs, backs, and/or wings, hacked into 2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
8 cups water
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Brown half of chicken, about 5 minutes; transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining chicken; transfer to bowl.

Add onion to fat left in pot and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups water, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt, scraping up any browned bits.

For the stovetop: Stir remaining 6 cups water into pot, then return browned chicken and any accumulated juices and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until broth is rich and flavorful, about 4 hours.

For the slow cooker: Transfer browned chicken and any accumulated juices and onion mixture to slow cooker. Stir in remaining 6 cups water. Cover and cook until broth is rich and flavorful, about 4 hours on low.

Remove large bones from pot, then strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into large container; discard solids. Let broth settle for 5 to 10 minutes, then defat using wide, shallow spoon or fat separator. (Cooled broth can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)

Reprinted with permission from Paleo Perfected: A Revolution in Eating Well with 150 Kitchen-Tested Recipes by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen).

More paleo recipes to love:

Chocolate Chip Georgia Pecan Pie from ‘Down South Paleo’

Orange Sriracha Chicken from Nom Nom Paleo

Grilled Mayan Pork Chops from ‘One-Pot Paleo’