By Chef John Ash
Serve these Lamb Meatballs as bite-sized appetizers or combined with your favorite pasta dish. Enjoy with a glass of the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
Total Time 2 hours
Prep Time 45 minutes
Difficulty Level Medium
1-1/2 c finely diced onions (for the meatballs)
1/4 c heavy cream (for the meatballs)
2 large egg yolks (for the meatballs)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (for the meatballs)
1 tsp ground cumin (for the meatballs)
1 tbsp ground mint (for the meatballs)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (for the meatballs)
2 lbs ground lamb (for the meatballs)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (for the meatballs)
1 c fresh bread crumbs (for the meatballs)
1/4 c chopped parsley (for the meatballs)
Olive oil for brushing the meatball baking sheet
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (for the sauce)
1 c finely diced onion (for the sauce)
2 tsp oregano (for the sauce)
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (for the sauce)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (for the sauce)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (for the sauce)
28 oz can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano (for the sauce)
1 tsp sugar (for the sauce)
1/3 c orange juice (for the sauce)
2 tsp finely grated orange zest (for the sauce)
Kosher salt (for the sauce)
Freshly ground black pepper (for the sauce)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (for the topping)
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves (for the topping)
Preheat broiler. In a large bowl, mix together the onion, cream, egg yolks, cinnamon, cumin, mint and red pepper flakes. Add lamb to the bowl, and season it well with salt and pepper.
Add the bread crumbs and parsley and gently mix to combine. Take a little of the mixture and cook it to taste for seasoning. Adjust seasoning if needed. Shape the meat into balls about the size of golf balls.
Brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil and place the meatballs on it evenly spaced. Place beneath the broiler, and cook, turning once or twice, until the meatballs are well browned, approximately 7 minutes. Set meatballs aside and turn oven to 375 degrees.
Heat a deep saucepan over medium high heat and add the olive oil, onions, oregano, red pepper flakes, fennel seed and cinnamon and sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, sugar, orange juice and zest. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer gently for 5 - 7 minutes until nicely thickened. Season to your taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the tomato sauce into a large baking dish that you can put on the table. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce, spacing them about 1/2-inch from each other.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through. Top with crumbled feta and scattered mint.