Recipe: Billy Goat Meatballs From the Kitchen Window column
NPR logo Billy Goat Meatballs

Billy Goat Meatballs

These meatballs, adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook, were inspired by the ingredients often found in a goat cheese tart — pungent chevre, fresh thyme and caramelized onions. Like most gamier meat, goat is so lean that it is important to add fat to avoid dryness. Here the goat cheese provides both fat and flavor. These can be served with a tomato sauce, but I prefer them as is.

Courtesy of Bonny Wolf
Billy Goat Meatballs
Courtesy of Bonny Wolf

Makes about 2 dozen, 1 1/2-inch meatballs

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup goat cheese

2 pounds ground goat meat

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon salt and the thyme. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and nicely browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

Combine cooled onion mixture with remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-sized meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.

Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165 degrees.

Allow meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.