Orecchiette with Orange-Spiced Lamb Meatball
Good orecchiette (fresh is best, but good-quality dry works well too.)
For the Meatballs
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 cup of crumbled, day-old country bread (you can food-process the bread as well, but it’s easy to do by hand)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
zest from 1 large navel orange (microphone or traditional zester is fine)
good pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped marjoram
1/4 cup grated grana padano or parmesan cheese
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
For the Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, cut into a slices
8 celery hearts, sliced very thin
1/2 cup of chopped parsley, plus a couple extra pinches for finishing
3/4 cup homemade veggie broth (Make your own by simmering carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley and potato in a stockpot of water for 3-4 hours and then straining.)
2 loose cups of grated grana padano or parmesan (to taste, for finishing)
olive oil for pan
For the meatballs
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then mix well with your hands.
Roll small balls in your hand, (1/2″ to 3/4″ in diameter) and place in a rimmed pan coated with extra virgin olive oil.
Roast in oven for 5 minutes. Set aside until combined with sauce.
For the sauce and finished dish
Heat a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over a low flame in a sauté pan. Add garlic slices and let sizzle until the moment it starts to brown, then use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic and discard.
Turn up the heat to medium, add the celery and parsley and cook until the celery is translucent. Once the celery is cooked, turn down the heat to low, add in 3/4 of the stock and the meatballs. Stir the mixture occasionally and allow the liquid to reduce to about half. This takes approximately 15 minutes.
While the sauce is reducing, cook your orecchiette. Make sure the water is well salted and you don’t overcook the pasta.
Once the sauce has reduced, add the cooked pasta and toss together. Add a handful or two of grated grana padano or parmesan cheese and another big pinch of chopped parsley. Serve immediately.