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Grilled meatballs with charred tomato ramp sauce

Marcus Samuelsson makes meatballs with charred tomato ramp sauce
Megan Wheeler/TODAY


Grilled meatballs
  • 1 pound dark meat chicken
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 ounces finely diced onion
  • 1 ounce finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 ounce fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • Milk, as needed
  • Salt, to taste
  • Berbere, to taste (start with 2-3 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup cornbread bread crumbs
  • 6 slices toasted cornbread
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 6 tablespoons cottage cheese for garnish
  • Fresh herbs for garnish
Charred tomato ramp sauce
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 cup kale, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 grilled ramps (from above)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Basil to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Juice from 1 lime


For the meatballs:

Soak cornbread breadcrumbs in enough milk to give it the consistency of wet sand.

Combine the cornbread mixture with the remaining ingredients. 

Taste for seasoning by cooking off 1 small patty.

Form the mixture into 1.5-ounce meatballs. Grill 2 minutes per side on medium heat. Add 6 pieces of ramps and grill for 8 minutes. Finish meatballs in a pan simmering in Charred Tomato Ramp Sauce.

For the tomato ramp sauce:

Char tomatoes and jalapeno on the grill until slightly smoky. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, sauté kale, shallots and garlic in olive oil until tender. 

Add charred and canned tomatoes and chopped jalapeno and basil. 

Bring to boil, simmer and reduce by ¼ (approximately 8 minutes). Add in the meatballs and simmer for another 8 minutes until meatballs are fully cooked. Add ramps after meatballs have been simmering.

Adjust seasoning.

To serve: toast cornbread and place onto serving dish. Divide sauce and meatballs. Garnish with cottage cheese and fresh herbs.