Recipe from Seamus Mullen’s Hero Food by Seamus Mullen (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012)Meatballs-it doesn't seem to matter in what form, are always a top seller at the restaurant. Whether it's duck meatballs, or veal or lamb, our guests never tire of them. I like lamb meatballs with sheep's milk ricotta, but if you can't find it, fresh cow's milk ricotta is just fine.
For the Meatballs
Combine the ground lamb, bread, herbs, red wine, garlic, guindilla, cumin, coriander seed, fennel, salt, and black pepper in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle or a dough hook. Process for 1 minute at medium speed (or mix by hand like a bread dough), then slowly add the eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Form into meatballs about an 1½ inches in diameter (they'll shrink a bit in cooking).
- 4 pounds ground lamb breast
- 1 pound ground lamb top round
- 1 cup cubed bread, soaked in 1 cup milk
- ½ cup chopped mixed fresh herbs like parsley, mint, oregano, rosemary, and/or thyme
- 2 tablespoons red wine
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon guindilla pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground black cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 eggs
To Finish the Dish
- 4 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, slowly roasted, or
- 2 (28-ounce) cans good-quality tomatoes, drained
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 guindilla peppers
- 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves crushed by hand, a few leaves reserved for serving
- Leaves from 1 large bunch fresh oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Good ricotta cheese
- Leaves of fresh parsley for serving
If you're using fresh tomatoes, layer them in a baking sheet with olive oil, garlic cloves, and whatever herbs you have on hand. Roast in a 300° oven for 45 minutes. Peel the skins and discard.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs a few at a time and roll around until they're golden brown. Once the meatballs are all nicely browned, remove them from the pot to a large plate lined with paper towels.
Reduce the heat under the pot and add the garlic, guindilla peppers, basil, oregano leaves, and bay leaves. Crush the roasted or canned tomatoes by hand, one by one, into the pot.
Slowly cook down until the sauce takes on a rich, sweet tomato flavor and comes together nicely, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper.
Return the meatballs to the pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook until just heated through, about 8 minutes. Serve the meatballs and sauce in small bowls with generous dollops of ricotta and a few torn leaves of basil and parsley.