How to cook Scotch Lamb meatballs
After an afternoon of chilly Christmas shopping, I realised there was only one thing that would satisfy me and my grumpy other half (lesson learned about taking him shopping) and that was my speedy lamb meatballs. I don’t know what it is with men and meatballs but who am I to argue, if it gets me out of the bad books then I’ll cook away.
- 500g lean Scotch Lamb mince
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 2 small brown onions, finely diced
- 1 slice of white bread, grated into crumbs
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 25g fresh tarragon, leaves gently chopped
- 25g fresh basil
- 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 200g cherry tomatoes
- 400g penne pasta (or spaghetti, which I prefer)
- 50g parmesan shavings (optional)
I preheated the oven to gas mark 6 (which is 200°C/400°F) while I got on with the meatballs. Mix the lamb mince, half the garlic and onion, breadcrumbs, egg, a pinch of salt and pepper. Mixing with your hands is the type of job in the kitchen that people either love or hate (I for one am a lover) but just try not to enjoy it so much that you overwork the mince, that’ll make your meatballs tough.
Another thing you shouldn’t do is smugly shape the meatballs into 12 perfect spheres without adding the tarragon. SO AFTER YOU ADD THE TARRAGON, shape the mince into less-smug balls. If you misjudge the division and end up with 1 much bigger one at the end, not to worry, that can be yours. When shaping mince into meatballs or burger patties, it’s always a good idea to pop them in the fridge for about 30mins; it just makes the balls a little more together and less likely to break up when you’re browning them.
So, while the meat is chilling in the fridge, you can either: chill yourself, or, you can get on with the sauce. This is also a good time to pour yourself a wine (a good excuse is to say you’re letting it breathe). And let’s be honest, it’s the chef’s perk. With the assistance of my local wine shop man, I picked a nice Rioja to go perfectly with the lamb.
Sip wine. Then, fry the rest of the onions and garlic in a pan (an oven proof one with a lid, because you’ll be popping it in the oven). Then add the chopped tomatoes with a pinch of sugar. Bring up to the boil and let it simmer for about 3 or 4 mins.
Now, back to the meatballs.
In batches, cook the balls in oil and allow them to brown all over. You don’t want to crowd the pan or the meat will bubble away and stew in its juices instead of browning. Once they’re brown all over, add the meatballs to the saucepan along with the cherry tomatoes and basil. Stir it all together and bring to a simmer. Then pop the lid on and place in the oven for about 20 mins.
Cook the pasta and drain. The original recipe says to use penne but I love spag more so that’s what I used. I’m a rebel like that. If like me, you manage to burn yourself on the rim of the pot, simply rub the burn with the leaf of an aloe vera plant (note to self, must remember to buy that aloe vera plant).
Take the meatballs out of the oven and add to the pasta. Mix the pasta into the sauce, there’s nothing I hate more than a big bowl of dry pasta with a sauce placed on top, so give it a toss through. Then grate some Parmesan on top (treat yourself to more than you’d let the waiter grate on in a restaurant, there’s less cheese shame in the house).
For a final flourish, top with some torn basil to serve. Delish. And guaranteed to get you out of any Christmas related strops in less that 30 mins – that’s pretty good going.
You can see more midweek Wham Bam Lamb recipes online at www.whambamlamb.com