Tomato and Olive-Braised American Lamb Meatballs with Soft Polenta

Tomato and Olive-Braised American Lamb Meatballs with Soft Polenta

Tomato and Olive-Braised American Lamb Meatballs with Soft Polenta

Recipe from Chef/Owner Matthew Accarrino, SPQR (San Francisco, California)

6 servings

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 2 hours

Braising Base

2        bacon strips, minced

Olive oil, as needed

1        red onion, minced

Salt, to taste

6        garlic cloves, crushed

3/4        cup dry red wine

3        cups San Marzano tomatoes, passed through the coarse die on a food mill

1        tablespoon tomato paste

2        rosemary sprigs

4        thyme sprigs

Begin the braising base for the lamb meatballs: In a large casserole, render the bacon with a small amount of oil. Add in onion; season lightly with salt. Cook until onion is soft. Add in garlic; sweat for 1 to 2 minutes. Deglaze with wine; cook for a few minutes. Add in tomatoes and paste; bring the sauce to a simmer. Wrap butcher’s twine around the bottom of the thyme and rosemary and tie together; add to sauce. Cook sauce while preparing meatballs.


1        pound ground American Lamb, taken from the sirloin

1/2        cup bread crumbs, unseasoned

1/2        cup ricotta

1/4        cup Pecorino cheese, grated

1        egg

2        tablespoons parsley

1/4        teaspoon ground cumin

1        teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/4        cup black olives

1        tablespoon mint leaves, stacked, rolled into a tight cylinder, sliced crosswise into thin strips

2        tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Creamy polenta, for serving

In a bowl, combine lamb, bread crumbs, ricotta, Pecorino, egg, parsley, cumin and paprika; mix well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper. Form meatballs. In a lightly sprayed sauté pan, add meatballs. Place under a broiler to cook, or brown on the stovetop. When brown, transfer meatballs to braising base. Place a parchment cover on the pan; cook at 325ºF about 1 hour.

To finish the dish, stir the olives into the meatball mixture. Serve over creamy polenta and sprinkled with chopped fresh mint, grated Pecorino, olive oil and black pepper.

Recipe and image provided by the American Lamb Board