Lamb Meatballs in Artichoke Ragu


It is a rather nasty rainy, grey day here in Michigan, but yesterday was glorious, and I spent the entire day outside in the garden and chicken coop, and filling our bird feeders. Our backyard forest is quickly turning from winter brown to bright, vibrant green, which is pretty to see from all of our windows. Although the forecast is still somewhat variable over the next couple of weeks, warmer weather is just around the corner.

Although when the temperatures rise I tend to turn to lighter menu options, I have been on a bit of a meatball kick recently for some reason. Meatballs are Italian comfort food, and although you seldom will find meatballs on a restaurant menu in Italy, many Italians do prepare them at home for their families. To make the most tender meatballs, I find it best to add some grated vegetables or milk moistened soft breadcrumbs. I always keep stale bread and grind it up for breadcrumbs that I can either use in recipes such as this or sauce with olive oil and garlic for a crisp topping on pasta. After I make the breadcrumbs, I store them in a ziplock bag in my freezer to take them out and use them when needed without worrying about them going moldy.

If you are not a fan of lamb, you could use ground veal, beef, or even brown meat turkey in these meatballs. Although my choice would be to use fresh artichokes, here in Michigan, they are difficult to find or costly if you do find them, so I use frozen artichokes in place of fresh. I had a can of Mutti Baby Roma tomatoes that I used in this dish, but you could use chopped tomatoes instead if you prefer. I served my meatballs on mashed potatoes, but they would be great served on cauliflower mash or polenta as well.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2021

Lamb Meatballs in Artichoke Ragu

Lamb Meatballs in Artichoke Ragu

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

An Italian comfort dish that will appeal to the entire family.

Ingredients

Lamb Meatballs:

  • 1 Pound Ground Lamb (See Notes Above)
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Soft Breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Ground Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Sauce:

  • 1 Medium Onion, Peeled & Sliced
  • 1 Pound Quartered Frozen Artichokes, Quartered
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 (14 Ounce) Can Mutti Baby Roma Tomatoes or Chopped
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 1/3 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • Pinch Red Chili Flakes (Optional)

Instructions

    1. In a small bowl mix the breadcrumbs and milk and let rest 5 minutes.
    2. In a medium sized bowl, add all of the meatball ingredients apart from the flour and olive oil and use your fingers to mix well.
    3. Roll the meat into 12 golf ball sized meatballs and set on a tray.
    4. Place the oil in a heavy skillet and the flour in a bowl.
    5. Roll the meatballs into the flour to lightly coat.
    6. Heat the oil over medium high heat and brown the meatballs on all sides.
    7. Once browned, remove the meatballs to a plate.
    8. Add the onions and artichokes to the skillet, and cook stirring often until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
    9. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two until fragrant.
    10. Add the tomatoes, oregano, broth, tomato paste, parsley, salt, pepper, and chili flakes if using.
    11. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
    12. Place the meatballs into the sauce, then cover the pan and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.
    13. Serve the meatballs in a shallow bowl with the artichoke ragu and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 762Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 206mgSodium: 752mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 9gSugar: 6gProtein: 51g