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Playing Roast Meatballs and Tomato-Tarragon Sauce


For the Meatballs
  • 2 cups stale white/peasant style bread, cubed or torn
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 pounds ground lamb, meatloaf mix (equal parts ground pork, veal and sirloin) or ground turkey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 1 cup, a couple of fat handfuls, freshly grated Pecorino
  • About 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley tops and mint leaves combined, finely chopped
  • A fat drizzle of EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 cups passata or tomato purée
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup tarragon leaves, chopped


Serves: 4-6


Preheat oven to 400°F.
For the meatballs, soak bread in milk. Place meat in a bowl and add eggs, garlic, salt, pepper, cheese, nutmeg (grated over the bowl), parsley, mint and EVOO. Squeeze excess milk from bread and crumble with your fingers as you add it to meat. Mix well to combine. 

For the sauce, heat a deep ovenproof saucepan or skillet over medium heat and add EVOO, 1 turn of the pan. Melt in butter then add onions and garlic, and sweat until very soft and tender, partially covering the pan and stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and passata, stock, salt and tarragon, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Use a scoop to form 2 1/2-inch, even-sized meatballs and arrange them in the skillet in the sauce – the sauce should not cover the balls. Transfer pan to oven and roast 20-25 minutes until cooked through and the meat is lightly browned on top.

Serve with extra shaved Pecorino and charred bread rubbed with garlic, drizzled with EVOO and sprinkled with sea salt for dipping.