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Lamb Meatballs with Spicy Marinara and Salsa Verde

Lamb Meatballs with Spicy Marinara and Salsa Verde

John Tesar of Knife restaurant is making meatballs, parmesan-style and with a spicy kick!
Ingredients for Lamb Meatballs
  • 2 slices white bread, like Pepperidge Farm (crusts removed)
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 pound lamb shoulder
  • ¼ pound ground lardo
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup packed basil leaves
  • ¼ cup packed oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup fresh finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish
Ingredients for Spicy Marinara Sauce
  • 2 cups 75% canola and 25% extra-virgin olive oil blend
  • 2 large stalks rosemary
  • 2 large sprigs thyme
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
  • 10 – 15 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (26.46 ounce) cartons Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Ingredients for Salsa Verde (Mediterranean version)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 10 white anchovy fillets in oil
  • ¼ cup small nonpareil capers, drained but not rinsed
  • ½ cup packed cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup packed parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon plus ¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions for Lamb Meatballs

1. Place the bread in a small bowl and pour the milk over. Set aside.

2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent and soft, about 5-7 minutes. Let cool.

3. If you are grinding the meat yourself, put the lam shoulder and lardo through the course plate of a meat grinder into a large bowl. If you are using butcher-ground lamb, put it into a large bowl.

4. Add the soaked bread, onions and garlic, egg, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt. Mix until all ingredients are evenly combined.

5. Roll the mixture into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter and set on a large plate or baking sheet. In a nonstick, ovenproof skillet over medium heat, brown the meatballs in batches of 10, using 2-3 tablespoons of oil per batch. Turn the meatballs until they are light brown on all sides; this should happen quickly. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking until the meatballs are golden brown all over, about 2-3 minutes. Drain the meatballs on paper towels.

6. Wipe out the pan and add 1 ½ cups of spicy marinara sauce (recipe below) to the pan. Turn the heat to low, add the meatballs and cook for 8-10 minutes, until they are cooked through.

To Serve

1. Preheat the broiler to high.

2. Position a rack in the top third of the oven.

3. For each serving, place 5 meatballs in a heatproof dish and top with ½ cup of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan and place under the broiler for 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

OPTION: garnish with salsa verde sauce

Directions for Spicy Marinara Sauce

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot over medium-high heat, heat the blended oil. Then add the rosemary, thyme, carrot, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized. Remove the pot from the heat.

2. Put the tomatoes in a large, heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot set over low heat. Immediately strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer into the tomatoes and discard the solids. Mix the oil and tomatoes, and add the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Leave a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula in the sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 35-45 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, and when the sauce has cooled slightly, pour into containers. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. When you remove the containers from the refrigerator, the oil will have risen to the top. Skim off as much of the oil from the sauce as you and reserve.

Directions for Salsa Verde

1. Put the garlic, anchovies, capers, cilantro, parsley, mint, ¾ teaspoon of the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of the salt, ½ teaspoon of the pepper, canola oil, and olive oil in the jar of a blender and cover.

2. Turn the blender on low, gradually increasing the speed to high. Check the mixture after about 30 seconds and scrape down the container You want a nice creamy texture, like pesto.

3. Taste, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Blend on the lowest speed to incorporate

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