All hail the meatball! One of the niftiest ways to get a family supper on the table that (9/10 times) everyone's going to like (ie the kids won't turn their noses up).

I enjoy meatballs in all their guises. The tiny little gobstopper ones sometimes thrown onto pizzas. Nonna-made Italian balls, glued together with love, and, usually, a smattering of Parmesan.

Dense, lightly spiced Swedish meatballs drowned in gravy with lingonberry jelly.

Kofta, melted into tahini sauce, with a punchy salad, and cradled in a warm flatbread. 

There is so much you can do with a pack of mince (or veg).

This week's recipe proves that opposites really do attract. On the face of it, lamb and anchovies shouldn't work. Lamb and fish? Get outta here. But, truly, they are great bedfellows. The dinky, brackish morsels, prised from their oily tin bath, sink into the meat. Think not of fishiness. Rather, the anchovies season the meat, and bringing it to life, and accenting all those delicious umami flavours.

Don't add salt and pepper to the lamb. Buy a chunkier, fattier mince and this, married with the filling and sauce, will give you all the taste you need.

We ate these with pasta, but they are gorgeous served on top of wedges of toasted bread, and spritzed with a squish of fresh lemon as part of a tapas platter.


Lamb, Anchovy & Garlic Meatballs

(Serves 3-4) 


500g lamb mince – not lean 

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature 

30g tin anchovies in olive oil 

Sea salt 

6 cloves garlic, 3 crushed, 3 thinly slicd 

2tbsps olive oil 

2 sprigs fresh thyme 

Large splash Madeira wine (or red wine) 

1 tin finely chopped tomatoes 

Pinch chilli flakes 

Fresh black pepper 



Chop the anchovies. Place half in a bowl with the butter. Crush in three of the garlic cloves and mash together. Add salt to taste – ¼ to 1/2tsp should be ample. You want it on the saltier side. 

Take a heaped teaspoon of the lamb mince and flatten it into a circle on your palm. Add a small dollop of the butter mixture in the centre and close the meat around it, forming a ball and making sure no butter is visible. Repeat with the rest of the mix. 

Pour the olive oil into a heavy bottomed frying pan and carefully, on a low to medium heat, saute the meatballs in a couple of batches to just colour the outsides. Remove to an ovenproof dish. 

Now, add the rest of the anchovies to the pan, with the thyme and sliced garlic. Saute for a minute. Carefully add a large splash of Madeira or red wine and cook off for another minute. 

Add the chopped tomatoes and chilli flakes and cook for a short while until it begins to thicken. Season with black pepper and pour over the meatballs. 

Bake at 200C for 25 minutes. Serve with flatbreads, rice or pasta.