March 9

Lamb Meatballs with Ricotta and Mint from Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking

I’ve loved using ground lamb since working with Joey Fortunato as a sous chef at Layla, a Mediterranean restaurant in Tribeca in the 1990s. One of the things we used to make was a lamb pizza called lahmajoun or lamacun, which was the inspiration behind these meatballs. I’ve added a few things here and there and made a play on Mediterranean and Italian flavors. A dollop of fresh ricotta pairs beautifully with richly spiced lamb and tomato sauce.

Serves 4

1½ pounds ground lamb
3 large eggs
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup (about 1 ounce) finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon Garlic Confit (page 271)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Olive oil
1 red onion, julienned
½ cup Chicken Stock (page 270) or store-bought low sodium
1½ cups Tomato Sauce (page 277) or pureed canned tomatoes
1 cup (about 8¾ ounces) fresh ricotta
Chiffonade of fresh mint leaves

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the lamb, eggs, panko, cheese, rosemary, garlic, salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, and cinnamon, and mix until incorporated. Form the mixture into golf ball–sized balls (about 1½ ounces each) and set aside on the prepared baking sheet. You should have 16 meatballs.
  1. In a large sauté pan, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, add the meatballs to the pan; do not crowd the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper, and sear on all sides until brown. Add the onions and cook, stirring gently, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the stock and cook until it has reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and cook until it has reduced by half and thickened, about 3 minutes. Drizzle a little olive oil over the meatballs and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Divide the meatballs among four bowls and serve topped with the ricotta and mint.