I probably write about my graduate school mania too frequently. But for those of you out there who are considering the self-destructing journey of getting a degree while working a full-time job, let me tell you this—it takes grit. When I’m sitting on my living room floor on a pile of course syllabuses, crying like an abandoned infant at 12:30am on a Tuesday…I think longingly of the time my mother got her Master’s degree while my brother and I were still small children. The very fact that she didn’t wring my whiny little neck during those stress-fueled years is reason enough to buy her an extra present every Christmas.
Regardless of the fact that there aren’t enough free hours in the day to remember to buy toothpaste, I still can’t sustain myself on Seamless.com forever. I’m still no millionaire. Since the summer season of Big Brother (judge me…I dare you) just ended and I have no tangible excuse to ignore my kitchen another day, I cooked up a twist on “meat-and-potatoes” that incorporated the fresh mint growing like a vine in my window box. I’m hoping it will give me the strength to get through one more policy research paper without a marathon meltdown.
**Pours the biggest glass of wine**
Lamb & Mint Meatballs with Greek Yogurt Dip and Sweet Potato Chips
-1 lb ground lamb
-1 medium shallot (all bulbs inside), finely minced
-1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
-3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped finely
-5 to 6 tablespoons seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs, until mixture holds together
-1 heaping tablespoon raw honey
-Zest of 1 lemon
-Juice of 1 lemon
-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
-1 large sweet potato, sliced thin with a mandolin
-6 oz plain Greek yogurt
-Dash of cumin
-Course sea salt and pepper
-Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and coat two large, flat baking pans with olive oil. Cut your sweet potato into thin slices with a mandolin. If you don’t have one, you can use a large, extra sharp knife. Cut the slices thinly, but not so thin that they appear transparent or fall apart. Lay your slices onto the oiled pans and sprinkle with course sea salt and just a dash of cumin. Place into the oven and set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes.
-In a large frying pan, add a little olive oil and set over medium heat. Add minced shallots and cook for several minutes until they become fragrant and lightly caramelized. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 20 seconds or so. Remove and add shallots and garlic to a large mixing bowl. If there are any burnt bits on the bottom of the pan, scrub them off with a wooden spoon or wet paper towel, and keep the pan for cooking the meatballs (no need to thoroughly wash it, the residual flavor is a good thing). In the same mixing bowl, add the ground lamb, egg, lemon zest, raw honey, Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons of chopped mint (save the last tablespoon for later), breadcrumbs (until the mixture holds together, but is still wet), sea salt and pepper, and mix everything together thoroughly.
-If your kitchen timer has gone off, take out the sweet potato chips and flip them over. Return to the oven and cook for another 3 minutes or so, checking them regularly to ensure they don’t burn. As soon as they are lightly brown and the edges have begun to crisp, remove from the pans and arrange on a few layers of paper towel to cool and drain.
-In the same large frying pan used for the shallots, add a thick coating of olive oil and set over medium heat. As soon as the pan is hot (don’t add meatballs to a cold pan, they’ll just absorb the oil), form cocktail-size meatballs between your hands and add them to the pan. You may have to cook them in shifts, depending on pan size. Cook for several minutes until lightly brown, then flip the meatballs so they brown on all sides. Be careful not to overcook them—lamb does not need to be well done! Remove all meatballs from the heat and allow to cool on paper towel.
-In a small saucepan or pot, add the juice of 1 lemon and reduce over low heat to 1/3 volume. Allow to cool for a minute, then combine the lemon juice with the Greek yogurt in a small bowl. Add the last tablespoon of chopped mint and mix. Salt lightly.
Serve your meatballs and sweet potato chips with the dip on the side—which goes well as a dip for both meat and chip. The meatballs should be juicy and flavor-filled, and the chips should be sweet and crispy. It’s a lighter version of meat-and-potatoes, with an ode to zesty lemons and aromatic mint. Enjoy. And if you choose to tackle the same grad school pandemonium that I have taken on, be kind to your sleep-deprived soul, eat a lot of food, and be sure you know your liquor store’s weekend hours by heart. Stay sane, kids.
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