Chef Kristine’s Cookbook

Lamb Meatballs with Mushroom-Stout Beer Ragout

Pair with SCHUG Carneros Pinot Noir
Course Dinner, Main Course
Keyword beer, Lamb, meatballs, Mushroom, ragout


  • 2 lbs. ground lamb
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • ¼ lb. bacon cut into small dice
  • 1 lb. button mushrooms cleaned and quartered
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups onion diced
  • 2 cups dark stout or porter beer
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups carrots in large dice
  • 2 cups celery in large dice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley finely chopped


Begin Ragout

  • Cook the bacon in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, stirring often. Once it is nicely browned, use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Now add the mushrooms to the bacon grease and increase the heat to medium-high. Add a pinch of salt. Stir and cook the mushrooms for several minutes, until they are very brown and all their liquid has cooked away.
  • Add the olive oil and the onion to the pot and stir and cook until the onion is translucent and nicely browned.
  • Add the stock, beer, and tomato paste to the vegetable mixture. Then, add the diced carrot and celery.
  • Turn flame to high to bring ragout to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. This ragout should simmer uncovered for about an hour, or until it has reduced by about 1/3.

Make meatballs while ragout simmers:

  • Place the ground lamb into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on a low speed until the meat is mostly broken up.
  • In a small bowl, mix the eggs, milk, salt and pepper, and fresh thyme together with a fork until they are well combined.
  • Add the breadcrumbs and stir them gently until they have soaked in the egg mixture for a couple of minutes.
  • Add egg mixture to the ground lamb and mix with the electric mixer until all the ingredients are completely mixed.
  • Allow the meatball mixture to rest a minute while a sheet pan is prepared.
  • Place a layer of foil on a sheet pan and place a large rack on top of the foil.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to form large balls with the lamb mixture and place them on the rack on the sheet pan. Once all the meatballs are formed, use your hands to shape and smooth each meatball. Place them in even rows on the rack, with a little space in between each one (You may need a second prepared sheet pan). Place the sheet pan into the preheated oven.
  • Cook the meatballs for about 10 minutes or until they are lightly browned on top. Remove sheet pan from oven, turn meatballs over, and return to oven. Cook them for another 8-10 minutes or until the second side is also nicely browned. Remove from oven and set aside.

Add meatballs to ragout:

  • When ragout has reduced enough, add the meatballs to the pot. Simmer the meatballs for about 30-40 minutes, shifting the position of the meatballs as needed. Simmering the meatballs adds a lot of depth to the ragout.
  • At the end of the simmering time add the chopped fresh thyme. Serve 3 or 4 meatballs per serving. Garnish with the fresh chopped parsley. Makes 5 to 6 servings.


*Cook’s note: This is a fun recipe to do with mashed potatoes, as a riff on Shepherd’s Pie. Or, serve with roasted potatoes as a riff on Irish Lamb Stew.

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