I took the chipotle from the albacore mousse dish and substituted it for the chorizo in the sauce for the meatballs. Instead of the ground turkey in the meatballs (itself a substitution for the more classic veal or beef) I used a 50/50 combination of ground lamb and ground bison. While I love turkey on Thanksgiving as much as the next guy, the simple fact is that turkey is not a particularly flavorful meat. Lamb, on the other hand, is. The fat and flavor of the lamb marries perfectly here with the lean beefiness of the bison.
Lamb & Bison Meatballs with Tomato-Chipotle Sauce
For the meatballs:
1/2 pound ground lamb (preferably shoulder)
1/2 pound ground bison
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (preferably made fresh from day-old bread)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon pimenton (smoked paprika)
1 egg, whisked to combine yolk and white
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
*You can substitute pork for the lamb and bison
For the sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2-3 chipotles from canned chipotle in adobo
2 tablespoons thyme, leaves only
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon white sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)
Make the meatballs
Combine all of the meatball ingredients (except the olive oil) in a large mixing bowl and mix gently but thoroughly. Form the meat into 1-inch balls. Pour the olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Working in batches (if necessary), add the meatballs and sear until browned on all sides, about six minutes. When fully browned, transfer the meatballs to a bowl.
Make the sauce
Place the chopped onion, carrot and celery in a large sauce pan and sweat over low heat until veggies have given up their liquid. Increase the heat to high. Add the tomatoes, two chipotles and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down and the flavors have melded. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper—and the acid balance with the sugar and vinegar—to your liking. If the sauce needs additional heat, add the remaining chipotle and allow to cook for another five minutes. Puree the sauce in a Vitamix or other high-speed blender.
Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for five minutes.