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Lamb Meatballs with Charred Tomato Ragout

Chef: Caston Richards
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Wine Pairing 2018 Ode to Barbara
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1/2 lb fatty ground pork lamb can be substituted for dietary restrictions
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 eggsPreview Changes opens in a new tab
  • 1.5 oz panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne
  • 2.5 lb ripe tomatoes
  • 2 oz garlic roasted (or 8 cloves not roasted)
  • 1 oz olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onion, small dice
  • 1/4 oz fresh thyme finely chopped
  • 1/8 oz fresh rosemary approx. 1-2 sprigs, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/4 bunch of parsley finely chopped
  • Red wine vinegar to taste
  • Brown sugar to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 5-6 oz of fresh Parmigiana Reggiano
  • Fresh baguette or loaf to serve optional
  • Notes: Pork is added to these meatballs to incorporate some fat. Ground lamb is typically very lean and can easily result in dry meatballs. This recipe reheats well so feel free to make as much of this ahead of time as needed for your evening!



  • Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  • Rough chop the tomatoes into large bite-size pieces and spread on parchment paper in an oven-safe dish.
  • If you do not have any roasted garlic, disperse the garlic cloves on top of the tomatoes. If you have roasted garlic, reserve it for later. Place in the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes or until color begins to appear.
  • Change oven to broil and continue roasting tomatoes to get a nice, scattered char (5-10 minutes). Keep a close eye on tomatoes during this process so they do not burn. Once you are happy with the char, remove the tomatoes from the oven and set the oven to 350ºF.
  • In a medium pot on medium heat add your olive oil and onions. Sauté the onions until they start to get a nice gold coloring (5-10 min), then turn them down to low, add your rosemary and thyme, and continue to caramelize the mixture until it is dark golden brown. This can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on your heat, the natural sugars in the onion, and the size of your dice. Remember to stir often through this process.
  • Once golden brown, deglaze with red wine and reduce by half.
  • Rough chop the roasted garlic and add it to the pot with the charred tomatoes.
  • Adjust the heat to bring the mixture to a low simmer. Reduce to a stew-like consistency.
  • Finish with 1 oz of olive oil.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and adjust, if necessary, with red wine vinegar and brown sugar. Depending on the ripeness of your tomatoes, your flavor profile can vary from tart to sweet. You are looking for the ragout to have a very subtle sweetness.


  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine ground meats, egg, breadcrumbs, paprika, cayenne, and 1 tsp of salt. Mix well.
  • In a small skillet, fry a small piece of mixture to taste for seasoning. Adjust seasoning as needed and repeat until the desired flavor is achieved.
  • Using a scale, measure out 3 oz of mixture per meatball and roll the mixture in your hands to bind the mixture before placing it on a parchment paper lined baking tray or insert.
  • Bake the meatballs in a preheated oven at 325ºF for approx. 25-30 minutes. The key to great meatballs is getting the seasoning and doneness just right! They should have a nice spongy feel to the touch and you should no longer see any blood running in the cooking tray. If you are unsure, the best way to know is to take a temperature. The internal temperature should be 145ºF. Be sure to get the end of the thermometer right in the middle of the meatball.
  • If your ragout is not ready, simply cover the meatballs until you are ready. You can rewarm them in the ragout to serve. Do not try to keep them warm in a warming device. They will end up drying out.


  • Add your meatballs to your ragout. If meatballs are cool, lid your pot and reheat as needed.
  • When you are ready to serve, stir in fresh parsley.
  • This can be served family-style in a large bowl or individually. Finish on the plate with fresh Parmigiana.
  • An excellent addition to this is a fresh loaf of bread. This can be served at room temperature, warmed, or even cut into pieces and toasted with some garlic parm butter. Get creative and have fun with it!

Wine Pairings

2018 Ode to Barbara