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Pony Express: Tuscan Lamb Meatballs
Chef Cesare Casella of Maremma – New York, NY
Adapted by

Yield: 4 Servings


  • 5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds ground lamb
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup minced pancetta or prosciutto
  • 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt to taste

  • Sauce:
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½-pound of lamb leg, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 4 cups plum tomatoes, pureed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghettini
  • ½ cup grated Grana Padano cheese

For Meatballs:

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Coat the bottom of a large ovenproof skillet with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, garlic and crush red pepper and sauté over medium heat until the onions start to soften and brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and transfer to a large bowl. Add the lamb, eggs, pancetta, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, thyme and salt to the bowl. Combine well and roll into ¼- inch balls. Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown 4 to 5 minutes per side. Finish cooking in oven.

For Sauce:
Reheat oven to 400° F. Heat the olive oil in a pan and sear the chopped lamb leg. Transfer to oven and roast. Add garlic and onion to pan and caramelize over medium heat. Add wine and reduce. Add the tomato, salt and pepper. Simmer for 1 hour and then smash the meat into fine pieces, until tender.

To Assemble and Serve:
Sear meatballs in pot with grapeseed oil. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and cook over low heat for 1 hour. Cook spaghettini in a large pot of salted boiling water. Strain and toss with grated Grana Padano cheese.

Wine Pairing:
Aia Vecchia "Lagone" 2003

   Published: October 2005