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Spicy lamb meatballs + sweet potato pancakes A Holiday Recipe from Chef Jennis

The Inspiration

Imagine wandering down one of Italy’s cozy cobblestone streets. You’re a lone hungry traveler, and the mom of a mom-and-pop bistro waves you over. Through the international language of food, you bond over dish after succulent dish she serves you — just because. And you fall (hard) for the lamb meatballs. Lucky you: She shares her recipe.

This scene was the real deal for Lloyd Modeste, executive chef at AKB in Archer Hotel Florham Park.

Back home in New Jersey, Chef Lloyd wanted to recreate the memorable meatballs — but with his own flair. Keeping the lamb, he swapped most of the ingredients. And he added a sweet potato pancake for a seasonal touch.

You’ll taste fresh cilantro and minced shallot complementing the earthy flavor of lamb. A touch of heat comes from harissa, which balances the sweet potato pancake. And the green goddess dip? A cool, smooth, slightly tangy sauce to top it all off perfectly.

Mamma mia! The holidays are a festive time to get the (meat)ball rolling. Give chef Lloyd’s inventive recipe a go — you won’t be sorry.

And if you find yourself in our neighborhood during the holiday season, come to AKB at Archer Hotel Florham Park. We’ll serve you dish after succulent dish, each with chef Lloyd’s special flair.

Chef Lloyd’s spicy lamb meatballs + sweet potato pancakes


Green Goddess Sauce
  • 3/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 medium scallions, chopped
  • 2 cans anchovy fillets, drained
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
Lamb Meatballs
  • Canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup minced shallot
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Sweet Potato Pancakes
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded
  • 1 pound turnips or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus a pinch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Vegetable oil


Green Goddess Sauce
  1. To a food processor, add first 6 ingredients and process until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Transfer mixture into a medium bowl; add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Lamb Meatballs
  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Grease a 9” x 13” baking dish with canola oil.
  2. Whisk water and harissa in a medium bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs; let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.
  4. Shape mixture into 24 meatballs, placing them in the baking dish so they are touching slightly.
  5. Bake until meatballs are browned and a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 160° F, 18 – 20 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve with green goddess sauce.
Sweet Potato Pancakes
  1. Place a colander inside a large bowl; add sweet potatoes, turnips and salt; toss to combine. Let mixture stand 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a clean kitchen towel; gather up edges, then squeeze out excess liquid. Transfer the sweet potato mixture to a medium bowl.
  2. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add leeks and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cooked leeks, eggs, flour, cumin, turmeric and ginger to sweet potato mixture; stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Wipe out the skillet, then add a 1/8-inch layer of vegetable oil. Heat on medium until shimmering. Working in batches, spoon 2 tablespoons of the batter for each fritter into the skillet about 2 inches apart, flattening each slightly with a spatula. Fry until golden and crisp, 2 – 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fritters to paper towels to drain

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