Lamb Polpette with Roast Tomato Sauce

Polpette is the Italian name for meatballs but I tend to use when the meatballs are smaller than usual, about the size of a cherry tomato. These polpette are flavoured with lemon zest and parsley and simmered in chicken. Some of the cooking liquid is simmered with roast tomatoes to make sauce for the polpette.

Serves 3
Prep: 35 min
Cook: 35 min

500g tomatoes
olive oil
1 onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
400g minced lamb
1 egg yolk
25g flat leaf parsley leaves plus a few extra
3 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp crème fraiche or thick cream
1 small lemon
500ml chicken stock

Halve the tomatoes round their middles and line up on a foil-lined, shallow roasting tin. Smear the cut surface with olive oil. Cook in the oven at 150C/gas mark 2 for about 40 minutes until squashy. Set aside to cool and then scrape the flesh off the skins, trying to keep all the juices on the foil. Tip into a medium-sized, lidded saucepan. Meanwhile, halve, peel and very finely chop the onion and soften in 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium low heat. Stir often; you want the onion sloppy not crisp. Add finely chopped garlic and cook for a further few minutes until the garlic is aromatic. Tip into a mixing bowl and crumble the meat over the top. Season with salt and pepper, adding the egg yolk, chopped parsley leaves and microplane grated (very finely) zest from half the lemon. Mix the breadcrumbs into the crème fraiche and add dollops to the mix. Use for or hands or both to mix and mulch, eventually forming into a ball. Roughly quarter the ball in the bowl and with wet hands, pinch of a piece of mix and roll between your hands aiming to from into 8-10 balls per quarter. Transfer to a plate as you go. Pour the stock into a spacious frying/sauté pan and bring to simmer. Add the balls, a few at a time and simmer for about 5 minutes until firm and probably shedding some of their onion. Scoop back onto the plate, pour the stock through a sieve into a plastic box and pop in the freezer so the fat can solidify and be removed. It took 40 minutes for this to happen and there was a lot of fat.  Measure 150ml of the stock into the tomatoes then liquidize the two together. Warm through and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the polpette and warm through 10 minutes before you are ready to serve with a parsley garnish.