My mom absolutely loves the meatballs at Giovani’s in Carmel By The Sea so I set out to create my own version at home. After several attempts to recreate the classic – and legendary – meatballs, my mom has given me the seal of approval that these are spot on replicas! Until our next trip to Carmel, you can find us enjoying them in the comfort of our own home.
Yield: 32 meatballs
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 – 60 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large shallots, minced (approximately 3 tablespoons)
2 garlic cloves, minced (approximately 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon dry oregano
2 pounds ground lamb
2 large eggs, lightly whisked with a fork to break yolk
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon tomato paste, best quality possible
2, 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes, like San Marzano – see kitchen note
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon Greek seasoning
1 tablespoon dry oregano
2 fresh bay leaves
1/2 cup crumbled feta, to garnish
freshly chopped parsley or mint
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
2. In a small sauté pan over medium – low heat, add olive oil and allow to heat, approximately 1 minute. Add shallots and cook until translucent, approximately 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, approximately 10 – 20 seconds. Transfer to a medium size bowl and set to the side.
3. To the shallot mixture, add the curry, cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano and lamb. Using clean hands, mix until just combined being careful to not over mix the lamb. Add eggs and breadcrumbs and combine until evenly incorporated. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Note: mixture should still be a little sticky and slightly wet.
4. Using clean dry hands, shape into 32, 1 1/2-ounce balls.
5. On two parchment lined baking sheets, place meatballs in an even layer with 1-inch barrier from one to the next.
6. Place in preheated 425ºF oven and allow to cook until light golden in color and mostly cooked through, approximately 20 minutes. Note: After 10 minutes, make sure you rotate the pans (top to bottom, bottom to top) to help with even cooking times and coloration.
7. Meanwhile, in a medium size saucepan over medium heat, combine tomato paste with tomatoes, nutmeg, Greek seasoning and dried oregano. While occasionally stirring, cook until simmering, season with salt to taste and remove from heat.
8. When the meatballs have finished browning in the oven, approximately 20 minutes, remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350ºF.
9. Transfer meatballs to a large 9x13-inch baking dish and evenly cover with tomato mixture, tucking the bay leaves so they are fully submerged. Return to 350ºF oven and allow to bake until sauce is lightly bubbling and meatballs are cooked through, approximately 20 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and serve with extra sauce on top.
11. Consider garnishing with crumbled feta, chopped parsley or mint right before serving.
Kitchen Note: If the tomato sauce is too acidic to taste, add a little granulated sugar when making the tomato sauce.