Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Sauce & Ricotta Salata

Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Sauce & Ricotta Salata
Staff Writer
Lamb meatballs made by chef Adam Dulye.

Melissa Fuller, Eddie Arrossi & Brewers Association

Lamb meatballs made by chef Adam Dulye.

From DC's SAVOR event and chef Adam Dulye from The Monk's Kettle and The Abbot's Cellar. Pair with 21st Amendment's Back in Black brew.


For the meatballs

  • 1  Cup  fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4  Cup  milk
  • 2/4  Pounds  ground lamb, preferably shoulder meat
  • large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2  Tablespoons  minced onion
  • 1  Tablespoon  minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1  Teaspoon  minced fresh oregano
  • 1  Teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1/4  Teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  Teaspoon  tsp sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

  • 2  Tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1  Cup  finely chopped red onion
  • 2  Teaspoons  finely chopped fresh oregano
  • fresh bay leaf
  • three-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2  Cup  dry red wine
  • 2  Cups  canned San Marzano tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4  Ounces  ricotta salata, crumbled


For the meatballs

Heat the oven to 400°F and lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk; let sit until the bread absorbs the milk, about 10 minutes.


Put the lamb in a medium bowl. Squeeze the excess milk out of the breadcrumbs and add them to the lamb. Add the egg, onion, parsley, oregano, garlic, cinnamon, paprika, 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. With your hands or a rubber spatula, gently work the mixture together until thoroughly combined. Moisten your hands with cold water and shape the mixture into 16 balls (about the size of golf balls); arrange them on the baking sheet.


Bake the meatballs until cooked through and browned on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

For the sauce

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the oregano, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and allspice. Raise the heat to medium high and add the wine. Simmer for a minute or two until slightly reduced and then add the tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low. Let the sauce cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add more water if it seems too thick.


Add the baked meatballs to the sauce, turning to coat them. Cover the pan partially and cook until the
meatballs are heated through, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the meatballs and sauce sprinkled with the ricotta salata.

Lamb Shopping Tip

Look for meat that is bright red. Red meat turns paler as the hemoglobin within releases oxygen – a sign that the meat has been sitting too long at the butcher's counter.

Lamb Cooking Tip

When browning meat, resist the urge to move the meat – you must allow a flavorful crust to form over high heat. Once it has formed, the meat should slide freely with the shake of a pan.

Lamb Wine Pairing

Most red wines, especially cabernet sauvignon, but also including cabernet franc, mourvèdre, Rhône blends, zinfandel, petite sirah, nebbiolo, nero d'avola, primitivo, barbera, and sangiovese.