Spring Lamb Meatballs with Anchovies and a Red Wine Jus

It’s Spring, which means many things are now an absolute must; including daffodils, flowery dresses, going out without your coat on for the first time in months, and LAMB, GLORIOUS LAMB. Nothing beats spring lamb if you ask me, and I’m also a big fan of it’s favourite acquaintances: rosemary, thyme, garlic, and especially anchovies. They’re a bit of an odd couple in a kind of Voldemort and Professor Quirrell way, but I think they go together better than Kate & Wills.

Last night, I had a couple of lovely ladies at my house drinking sparkling wine and talking about all of life’s best things, so I decided to rustle up some spring lamb meatballs. Based on this Sunday Times recipe, I added a few extras and made a jus and herby roasted vegetable couscous to go with it. Here’s how it happened…

You’ll need:

For the meatballs:

500g lean minced lamb, the fresher the better
75g breadcrumbs
20g parmesan
10 anchovy fillets in olive oil
Zest of a whole lemon, juice of half a lemon
5 spring onions, finely sliced
1 handful of rosemary leaves, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper (no salt needed – the anchovies are enough!)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 egg, beaten
Flour, for dusting
Oil, for frying

For the couscous:

200g couscous
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
One onion, chopped (red or white, whichever you prefer)
1 courgette, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, whole
2 garlic cloves, whole but peeled
Sundried tomatoes
Green olives, cut into slices
Olive oil
Mixed herbs

For the jus:

The lamb juices (after cooking)
One glass red wine
1 1/2 tsp redcurrant jelly
Thyme (whole sprigs)

How to Make it:

1. Put the lamb, breadcrumbs, parmesan, spring onions, garlic, rosemary, anchovies, lemon zest and juice, egg and black pepper into a large bowl, and mix together with your hands.
2. Put all the couscous vegetables (minus the sundried tomatoes and olives) and garlic into a large roasting tin, sprinkle with 2 tbsp of olive oil and mixed herbs,  and put in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 1 hour.
3. Flour your hands and a board, and take golfball sized chunks of the meatball mixture. Flatten them to a depth of about 1.5cm.
4. Shallow fry them in batches: cook each side briefly in hot oil, then turn down the heat and cook for about eight minutes (or until still faintly pink in the middle.)
5. Fifteen minutes before the veggies are done, pour 500ml boiling water over the couscous (it should be in a deep ovenproof dish), then leave for five minutes. Pop it in the oven with the vegetables for the last ten minutes to keep it warm.
6. Pour the lamb juices into a pan, add the wine, redcurrant jelly and sprigs of thyme, and let it simmer for a few minutes until it reduces. I actually wish I’d added stock and let it simmer for longer so it became thicker, so please feel free to learn from my mistakes!
7. Take the couscous and vegetables out of the oven and mix them together. Add sundried tomatoes and olives.
8. Pour the jus over the meatballs, which should be placed on top of the couscous and vegetables.

It proved flavoursome without being overpowering, and we all cleared our plates. It was washed down rather nicely with a bottle of Some Young Punk’s The Squid’s Fist – a blend of Shiraz and Sangiovese from Aus that blew our minds. Plus the label on the bottle is AMAZING.

 Photo copyright Cake, Prattle and Soul.