|Lamb Meatballs With Mint and White Bean Ragout
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
¼ cup blanched almonds, toasted and finely ground (see note)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 pound ground lamb (80 percent lean)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon piment d'Espelette (see note)
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
½ cup water (divided)
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
¼ cup chopped green onion
Drizzle of olive oil
In a small bowl, gently combine the bread crumbs, almonds, olive oil and wine; set aside to soak. In a large bowl, combine the lamb, coriander, piment d'Espelette, salt, pepper and mint. Add the bread crumb mixture and ¼ cup of the water. Mix again, adding more water until the mixture is smooth, with a loose consistency. (To test the flavor, sauté a small patty of the mixture and taste. Adjust seasonings as desired).
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Divide the mixture into 16 portions and shape into balls. Place meatballs on a baking sheet and place in the oven until browned, about 10 minutes.
Place the beans in a 2- to 3-quart casserole dish. Stir in the chopped parsley, green onion and olive oil. Arrange browned meatballs on top. Cover dish lightly with foil and bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Note: To toast nuts, spread on baking sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until they start to brown.
Note: Piment d'Espelette is a spicy powder made from dried and ground Espelette chiles from the Basque region. You can find it through online retailers, or substitute hot paprika or New Mexico chile powder. – serves 4 From chef Monique Sui, Castagna