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Brighten Up Traditional Meatballs With A Vibrant Yogurt Sauce

Seven meatballs served with a yogurt sauce
Seven meatballs served with a yogurt sauce - Lecker Studio/Shutterstock

Stuffed in a sub with thick tomato sauce, speared on the end of a fork swirled with spaghetti, or layered upon a hill of creamy mashed potatoes, the meatball is a versatile yet comforting ingredient. Since the origins of meatballs are shrouded in mystery, labeling a particular meatball as "traditional" is somewhat controversial. Yet, a commonality between the various forms is the presence of ground meat, spices, herbs, a binder (like eggs), and breadcrumbs, resulting in a juicy, herby, and satisfyingly fatty finished product.

While the humble meatball often takes center stage, it would be nothing without an accompanying sauce. If you're looking for inspiration, crack open a tub of yogurt. You may have seen yogurt touted as an unexpected meatball ingredient to impart texture and flavor, but have you ever considered what it may do as a sauce? This pairing is not unconventional; meaty flavors are wonderfully balanced by a yogurt sauce.

This sauce is also remarkably versatile, as it blends effortlessly with various creamy, spiced, or tangy ingredients to form a thick texture that can be incorporated into a range of meatball dishes. However, it will work particularly well with spiced meatballs seasoned with earthy cumin, citrusy cinnamon, or warming allspice. Whether you prefer smothering your meatballs in warm yet inviting sauce or providing them with a cool, light coating, a yogurt sauce can significantly complement your dish.

Read more: 15 Tips For Making The Best Meatloaf

Choose The Right Type Of Yogurt For Your Meatball Sauce

Lamb meatballs topped with yogurt
Lamb meatballs topped with yogurt - Ender BAYINDIR/Shutterstock

Regarding yogurt, there are some differences to consider when deciding which type you want to use. Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt and, like mayonnaise, is ideal for a cold sauce where you do not need to heat it to thicken its consistency. If stores are out of Greek yogurt, regular yogurt can be used; ensure it's a fatty variety that will bind the other ingredients together. Alongside this yogurt, you may consider blending in refreshing flavors like cucumber, lemon juice, and fresh herbs (such as dill). This creates a cool sauce that pairs well with grilled meatballs on a bed of couscous.

On the other hand, if you want a sauce that is warm and slightly thinner than Greek yogurt consistency -- but still lusciously creamy -- you may wish to use regular full-fat yogurt. To intensify the flavor of the yogurt, a meaty broth can be stirred through, while egg yolks and cornstarch can aid in re-thickening the sauce. To prevent warm yogurt sauce from curdling, heat it slowly, whisk thoroughly while it cooks, and use a fattier variety.

Ways To Prepare Meatballs And Yogurt Sauce

Meatballs in a yogurt sauce
Meatballs in a yogurt sauce - Veliavik/Shutterstock

While this may be the first time you've heard of a yogurt and meatball medley, the pairing is iconic globally. Kibbeh bi laban or kibbeh labanieh is a Lebanese dish that features meat kibbeh (ground meat stuffed balls made from lamb or beef) served inside a thick yogurt sauce that's filled with garlic, rice, or bulgar wheat and fresh (or dried) mint. It's a comforting dish with whole milk or goat's milk yogurt and fresh minced garlic; the results are meaty, creamy, and delightfully tangy.

This duo is also renowned in the Mediterranean region, where, in Greece, a cool creamy yogurt sauce is often dolloped over herby meatballs and served inside a pita, alongside rice, or with a side of salad. The yogurt sauce may include salty feta, fresh herbs (like mint or dill), zesty lemon juice, or cooling cucumber. It's a refreshing sauce that brightens meatballs' deep, robust flavors. In this application, the yogurt sauce is prepared and served cold.

Now is the time if you've yet to try a meatball and yogurt combination. Whether you prefer it warm or cold, there's a yogurt sauce waiting to elevate your favorite meatball recipe.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.