Lamb Meatball Sliders
with Red Beet Salsa and Crème Fraîche
At the winery I serve these lamb meatballs in many different ways, in pasta dishes, on pizzas and as little sliders. In this recipe, a traditional cheese gougère replaces a slider bun. The addition of a pickled red beet salsa and some crème fraîche helps it pair well with our Cabernet Sauvignon.
Makes 24 Sliders, total time:
- 1½ cups milk
- 1½ cups water
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch nutmeg
- 2½ cups flour, sifted
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 egg, lightly scrambled with a splash of water
Pickled Red Beet Salsa
- 1 pound red beets
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar, seasoned
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup shallots, minced
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, large
- 1 pound lamb, ground
- ¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
- ¼ cup preserved lemon, diced small
- ¼ cup shelled pistachios, toasted
- ¼ cup olives, chopped
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1 cup arugula leaves
- 24 bamboo toothpicks
Make the Gougères
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Combine the milk, water, butter, salt and nutmeg in a medium pan. Bring to a simmer. Add flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms a ball.
- Transfer dough to a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix dough on medium speed, slowly adding the 6 eggs one at a time. Once all the eggs have been incorporated, add the Parmesan and continue mixing until well combined.
- Transfer mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch round tip. Pipe each gougère onto a greased cookie tray, about 1¾ inches in diameter, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Lightly brush each gougère with the egg/water mixture. With wet fingertips, smooth tops if necessary.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. The bottom should be nicely crisp and the inside should be moist.
Make the Beet Salsa
- Boil the red beets whole until tender, approximately 1 hour. After thoroughly cooled, peel and quarter the beets, and lightly purée in a food processor with olive oil and rice wine vinegar.
Make the Meatballs
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- In a small saucepan heat the oil and sauté the shallots and garlic until translucent. Add the pepper, coriander and salt and cook for an additional minute. Transfer to a plate to cool.
- In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and add the cooled shallot mixture. Add the ground lamb, bread crumbs, preserved lemon, pistachios, olives, and chopped parsley. Mix thoroughly together by hand and form into 24 bite size meat balls.
- Line the meatballs evenly onto a cookie tray, then bake until browned for 10-15 minutes. Keep warm.
- Cut each gougère in half, like a burger bun. Place a ¼ teaspoon of beet salsa on the bottom half and a ¼ teaspoon of crème fraîche on the top half along with a couple arugula leaves.
- Place the hot lamb meatball onto the bottom of the gougère,place the top on and pierce with a tooth pick to hold together.
- Serve on a platter with herb garnishes.
This recipe clearly makes more gougères than you will need for the lamb sliders. The great thing is that they freeze very well. Gougères make an excellent hors d'oeuvre snack all on their own. Try substituting other cheeses as well to make an exciting hors d'oeuvre.