Moroccan-spiced Lamb Meatballs with Spaghetti

Cider food pairings lamb

I learned two cooking tricks while making this recipe with Olaiya Land. First double grinding meat for meatballs makes the texture dense without a lot of bread crumbs. Second when you grate an onion for meatballs, the onion disappears when it is blended into meat, but the flavor is still present. Spaghetti with meatballs feels so retro but with this rich spice combination it is contemporary and totally something to serve guests. This is an amazing sauce and one that you could use again and drop eggs into for a Sunday brunch served with crusty bread for dipping.

Yield: 4 servings

1 lb. twice-ground lamb (ask your butcher to grind the lamb twice or pulse it in a food processor for about 30 seconds)

1 small onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater

½ cup dried bread crumbs

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon Coarse salt and freshly-ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter 28 ounces canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons ras el hanout

1 tablespoon chopped parsley, plus additional for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus additional for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped mint, plus additional for garnish

3/4 pound spaghetti Bring a large pot of generously salted water to the boil.

In a large bowl, mix the ground lamb and grated onion. Add the bread crumbs, the egg, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Mix well, using your hands.

Let stand 10 minutes for the flavors to come together.

Take a small amount of the lamb mixture and roll it into a walnut-sized ball. Repeat with the rest of the lamb.

Heat the olive oil with the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive sauté pan. Sauté the meatballs until evenly browned. Add the tomatoes, sugar, ras el hanout, parsley, cilantro and mint. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced and the sauce is no longer watery, stirring occasionally.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta until al dente then drain.

Toss the pasta with the meatballs and sauce in a large bowl.

Serve topped with more of the chopped parsley, cilantro and mint.