"Chefs and restaurants embrace Athens’s history and sense of place, combining that with innovation and inspiration from afar. This is creating a culinary dialogue unique to Athens, documented by Juanina in Classic City Cooking. We have long been known for music and art, and now food, drink, and hospitality are taking center stage as well.”
- Chef Peter Dale, The National
Based on the restaurants and chefs of Athens, GA, Classic City Cooking comes to us from Athenian Juanina Kocher. The recipes come from 14 local restaurants, plus enjoy an extensive honorable mentions section, and foodie input from local influencers and celebrities including The Whigs, Darius Weems, Widespread Panic, Billy Bennett and more...
Peter Dale's Lamb Meatballs with Dried Cherry Sauce
Yields about 24 meatballs
2 cups dried sour cherries
2 cups hot water
2 pounds ground lamb
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. cumin
2 1/3 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. parsley
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
In a bowl, soak dried cherries in the hot water until softened, about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, spread the lamb in an even layer. In a small bowl, combine the spices, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over the lamb and knead. Form the lamb in 1-inch meatballs; you should have about 24.
In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil until simmering. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook over medium-high heat. Cook until lightly browned outside and rare in the center, about 4 minutes. Reserve.
In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 3 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add the onions and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 12 minutes. Add the cherries and their soaking liquid and the lemon juice and simmer over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Pulse the cherry sauce in a blender until pureed but not smooth. Return the sauce to the pan. Add the meatballs and any accumulated juices and simmer over low heat until they are slightly pink inside and the sauce has reduced slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and pine nuts. Wonderful alone or serve with warm bread of choice! We recommend a soft, chewy pita.
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