Lamb Meatballs

sauce and meatballs

August 22nd 2011

I had some leftover roast lamb and didn’t fancy shepherds pie or moussaka – on a whim, I thought I’d make some meatballs in a marinara sauce.

ground herbs

Lamb Meatball recipe:

1lb minced lamb
1 medium onion (minced)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons of homemade breadcrumbs
rosemary, sage and thyme (a few sprigs of each), crushed in a mortar and pestle with course sea salt and black peppercorns
1 heaped teaspoon of hot, smoked, pimenton
2 pinches of crushed chilli
1 level teaspoon of ground cumin
1 beaten egg
2 dessertspoons of olive oil

minced lamb

I minced my already cooked lamb, but it could be substituted with raw minced lamb from the butcher.

mince and breadcrumbs

This is very simple – all the ingredients go into a bowl and you mix them together by hand.

and beaten egg

I normally heat the cumin gently in a frying pan before grinding in a mortar and pestle– it’s ready to grind when it starts to release an aroma.

meatball mixture

Once all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, take as much mixture as will fill the palm of your hand and press it into a ball – I got 10 balls from the quantities above. I’ve generally been disappointed by meatballs, very often they are bland, tasting of nothing much. However, I have had very good ones, notably at the Mona Lisa in Chelsea.


There’s an easy way to determine the quality and taste of your meatballs and that’s by taking a small bit of the mixture and frying it to see if it tastes good – it’s very easy to add more seasoning if required. Do not expect much of the little balls of meat sold in supermarkets – they will be completely flavourless!

taste test

Meatballs can be floured and fried or they can be cooked in a sauce, where they will absorb more flavour. I cooked mine in a rich marinara (tomato) sauce. While making the sauce I covered the meatballs and let them rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes – this helps them to bind together, so they don’t fall apart while cooking.

Marinara Sauce recipe:

tomato sauce

10 blanched and peeled medium tomatoes (or 2 tins)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
2 or 3 squirts of tomato purée
a pinch of crushed chilli (optional)
a splash of red wine vinegar
half a glass of red wine
a few bruised and torn basil leaves
a splash of olive oil for frying
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

cooking onions and garlic

This is a very versatile sauce which can be frozen or bottled if you have a glut of fresh tomatoes in the summer. I regularly make this sauce and add other things to it – if you leave out the onions, it’s great for pizza toppings.

cooked meatballs

Fry the onions until they go translucent, then add the garlic and chilli. Chop up the peeled tomatoes and put them into the pot with all the other ingredients. Cook gently for about 20 minutes. I use a big cast iron casserole, so that the meatballs can go in too (with the lid on).

wholemeal spaghetti

Once the sauce is right (do taste it), preheat the oven to 140ºC. Drop the meatballs gently into the bubbling sauce (don’t move them or they will break up), put the lid on and transfer them to the oven. Using the oven like this will allow for gentle cooking and no sticking (which is likely on the hob). The meatballs will take about 40 minutes to cook and should be turned over about halfway through.

spaghetti and meatballs

Serve with spaghetti and fresh, grated, parmesan. The above will feed 2 – 3 greedy people like me, or 3 – 4 normal people.

About Mad Dog
This entry was posted in Food, Meat, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lamb Meatballs

  1. This is very much how I make balls from left over roasted meat – I think you get a double whammy of flavours from the two cooking methods! Delicious 🙂

  2. Audrey Evermore says:

    not sure if this was a post about food or particle physics… even covered string theory …

  3. particularly artistic arrangements of the meatballs on the plate. x

  4. Pingback: Albóndigas en Salsa | Mad Dog TV Dinners

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.