Recently at Whole Foods, I saw some beautiful local lamb chops and mince at the meat counter. Needless to say I bought them. I had plans. One of them was making lamb meatballs stuffed with rosemary and garlic cream cheese. And so I made this last night for my Sunday dinner along with a side of garlic mash potatoes. Once the stuffed lamb meatballs were ready I would bath them in a simple tomato sauce (I always have it handy) with a spoonful of homemade garlic aioli on the side. Pleased and full, I remembered an article my husband showed me a couple of months back. Basically, lamb emits the highest carbon emission and we’re not even talking post-production. So, it doesn’t matter if your lamb comes from New Zealand or Iceland or from Happy Farms down the road. The CO2 from bringing the meat to your table makes up for a small percentage of the entire lamb production’s carbon emission, which is as high as than beef and cheese combined.
I do feel a tad guilty, ashamed even, but I am conflicted. In this day and age, knowing what we know, it’s a challenge because eating well and eating green are sometimes mutually exclusive. Lamb is the world’s oldest domesticated animal used for its meat and dairy. And there is only one way to raise them, and that way hasn’t changed since time in memorial. Sheep must be allowed to graze and run around freely, preferably in green pastures, in order to strive. They cannot be locked up in a farm and herded like cows in cages; or be given hormones to grow because they don’t do so well outside of their natural environment. These animals must live a free-range lifestyle in the truest sense, or very close to, and it’s not a choice if the sheep farmers want to stay profitable. So, this eliminates most of the animals’ need for vaccines, antibiotics and/or hormones, which technically makes lamb the healthiest meat you can eat.
Personally, I think that globalization of foods makes us better and healthier. If we only ate what is 100 miles away, I can’t imagine us being very healthy. Avocados, coconut, mango, goji berries, quinoa, pineapples, nuts, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, oranges, lemons, limes, coffee, cocoa are examples of powerhouse foods with big carbon footprints. Do we just stop eating them? I feel the issue remains in production and management of food, too many irresponsible people in the food industry. I know that sounds like a pretty sweeping statement but doesn’t it all boil down to greed? As a consumer, the best I can do is knowing where my food comes from, how it is treated and weighing the pros and cons before making my purchasing choice. Eating more of what is in season locally, that is also organic, is the most ideal and it’s an idea we can all strive towards. What do you guys think?
I still feel guilty about the carbon emissions from my plate of delicious stuffed lamb meatballs but they were really, really good and simple to make.
Stuffed lamb meatballs with garlic aioli
- 1lb (454grams) of medium fat, minced lamb (go lean, if you wish)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of crushed, toasted, cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon of chili flakes
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 whole egg
- 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (optional)
- a dash of pepper
For the stuffing: 1/4 cup of cream cheese, 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 2 teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary, a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients together and set aside until ready to use.
- Mix the minced lamb with all of the ingredients well.
- Divide the minced meat into 18 golf size portions. Make a hole in the center and stuff a small ball of cream cheese in. Close it up the hole and roll into a ball. Repeat until all meat and cheese are used up.
- Chill the stuffed lamb meatballs in the fridge for all the flavours to marry, about 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 425F, you will lower the heat to 325F when you put the meatballs in.
- Drizzle a pan with some olive oil and scatter any remaining rosemary around the pan. Put your meatballs in and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until ready.
- 1 egg yolk
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed into a paste
- 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of olive oil to drizzle in slowly
- Mix the egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic paste, salt and pepper in a bowl. Slowly drizzle olive oil in while whisking until you get a thick, velvety pale emulsion.
- Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until required.
I tossed the stuffed lamb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce and served it over mash potatoes. You can eat the meatballs with pasta or even rice or with just boiled vegetables like carrots, kale, beans or broccoli. These vegetables go very well with the aioli as well, by the way. My only tip is to eat the meatballs while they’re still very warm because the stuffing gets all melty and good inside.