Lamb Meatballs w/Spiced Tomato Sauce

by May 12, 2014


The NYTimes photo of this lamb meatball recipe caught my eye recently, and I had to try it using Dave and Sally’s Montana Highland Lamb — a winner!  The surprise of the evening, which really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, I suppose, was how deliciously chèvre and lamb and this tomato sauce go together — don’t skip it!  (Keep a little tub of Amaltheia’s chèvre in your fridge — it keeps for weeks and it is a wonderful item to have on hand for cooking, as well as salad making.)  Hats off to chef Suzanne Goin of A.O.C. in Los Angeles,  the recipe’s creator.  Somehow she even got her kids’ school to put it on the menu!


Lamb Meatballs w/Spiced Tomato Sauce

Yield: 24 meatballs, serves 4


    The Meatballs:
  • 1 ½ pounds ground lamb
  • 1 small (½ medium) onion, peeled and finely diced
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • several grinds freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch red-pepper flakes
  • dash ground cayenne pepper
  • The Sauce:
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • two pinches red-pepper flakes
  • 1 small (or ½ medium) onion, peeled and diced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • dash ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 26.46 oz. box Pomi chopped tomatoes (or a 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes)
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. sea salt and a few grinds fresh black pepper
  • Garnish:
  • a couple tablespoons chèvre and a few sliced mint leaves


  1. Preheat broiler, with rack set about 4 inches below heating element. Gently combine meatball ingredients, form into 24 golf-ball-sized meatballs, and place on rimmed cookie sheet pan, spacing each about an inch from its neighbor. Broil for 15 minutes, until browned, turning once half way through cooking time. Remove meatballs from oven and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce:
  3. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat for a minute, then add olive oil, rosemary and red pepper and shake to combine. Add the onion, thyme, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and bay leaf and sauté until the onions are translucent, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, orange juice, sugar, salt and pepper and cook for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-low heat, until reduced by a third.
  4. Pour the tomato sauce into a 9x13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish that you can serve from after baking. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce, and bake for 15 or 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through. Top with crumbled chèvre and mint leaves.

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