For the tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups prepared tomato sauce or 4 cups diced tomatoes in tomato puree
1 1/4 pounds lean ground lamb or beef
1 large egg
1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch each of allspice and cinnamon
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine or low-sodium beef broth


1. Make the tomato sauce: In large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. When it begins to brown, stir in cinnamon; cook 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer while making meatballs.
2. Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine lamb or beef, egg, breadcrumbs, mint, salt, oregano, allspice, cinnamon, and pepper. With lightly oiled hands, form meat mixture into 30 1-inch meatballs.
3. In 12-inch nonstick skillet heat olive oil over low heat until hot. Increase heat to medium-high and add meatballs in batches, making sure that meatballs don't touch one another in the pan. Cook meatballs until browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. As meatballs are done, transfer them to hot tomato sauce.
4. When all the meatballs are cooked, add red wine or broth to skillet and boil over high heat 1 one minute, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Pour into tomato sauce; simmer, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Lamb is central to Greek cuisine and pairs beautifully with 2 other staples of the region, cinnamon and mint, both of which flavor these meatballs. If you are wary of lamb's strong flavor, substitute milder beef or use half-and-half. Serve the meatballs in pita pockets or over the rice-shaped pasta orzo, another Greek favorite.
Greek Meatballs
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