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Lamb Meatball Tartines With Onion Jam

Menu PartAppetizer/Small Plate
Cuisine TypeMediterranean

Chef Alicia Jenish-McCarron


San Francisco

This portable appetizer makes easy-to-handle finger food at a viewing party or other celebratory event. Serve the tartines as a hearty, more sophisticated alternative to chips and dip or pizza. Chef Alicia Jenish-McCarron saves labor by making the onion jam ahead.


Onion jam

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 cups finely chopped red onion

1 tbsp. sugar

1 cinnamon stick (1-in. long)

½ bay leaf

¼ tsp. kosher salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1½ tbsp. red wine vinegar


1¼ lb. ground lamb

½ cup finely chopped onion

½ cup bread crumbs

2 tsp. kosher salt

1½ tsp. finely chopped lemon zest

¾ tsp. finely minced garlic

¼ tsp. dark chili powder

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground coriander

Dash ground allspice

2 tbsp. finely chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tbsp. currants, plumped in warm water and drained

2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts

1 tbsp. finely chopped mint

Canola oil


20 slices rustic country bread or levain

4 oz. goat cheese

½ cup arugula

1½ tsp. lightly toasted pine nuts

1½ tsp. olive oil


  1. For onion jam: In large saute pan over medium heat, warm oil. Add onions; cook until they begin to sweat. Add sugar, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, salt and pepper; cover and cook about 30 minutes or until onion is soft but liquid remains in pan.
  2. Remove lid and add vinegar; continue to cook until just barely moist.  Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf; discard.  Set jam aside to cool.
  3. For meatballs: In bowl, combine lamb, onion and bread crumbs. Add salt, lemon zest, garlic, chili powder, cinnamon, coriander and allspice; combine well. Add parsley, currants, pine nuts and mint; mix well.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Line baking sheet with plastic wrap. Scoop out 1-ounce portions of lamb mixture, about the size of a golf ball. Roll mixture into balls; place on lined baking sheet. Use cold water to dampen your hands if mixture begins to stick.
  5. In skillet, heat about 1/2-inch oil. Line baking sheet with paper towels. When oil is hot, fry meatballs in batches without overcrowding the pan; cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown all over. Place on paper towel-lined baking sheet; keep warm.
  6. For tartines: Spread a scant tablespoon of onion jam on each piece of bread; place a small spoonful of goat cheese in center. Put bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in oven until cheese is soft and melty and bread is lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.  Remove from oven.
  7. To serve, toss arugula with nuts and oil. Arrange toasted bread pieces on platter or individual plates. Top each tartine with a warm meatball; garnish with arugula salad.  Serve immediately.

Photo courtesy of American Lamb Board

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