Sage-Wrapped Veal Meatballs with Sautéed Wild Ramps and Broccoli Rabe

Sage-Wrapped Veal Meatballs with Sautéed Wild Ramps and Broccoli Rabe

by BiteSizedJessica on April 28, 2010

A long-time tradition of Jon and mine has been to host Sunday night dinners at our apartment. This Sunday, we had ten people coming for dinner and I was making sage-wrapped veal meatballs cooked in a beef jus, spring vegetable pasta with a garlic-herb butter sauce and a roasted beet, goat cheese and arugula salad with an orange-grapefruit vinaigrette.  As a general rule for Sunday dinners, we usually invite too many people and then leave all of the cleaning and food shopping to the last minute. Combined with a late Saturday night out, Sunday dinners for us often mean the culmination of a day of frantic cleaning, running around the city buying groceries and eventually serving dinner to a set of starved and wine-tipsy guests two hours late. This past Sunday was no different, with the exception that on Saturday I had the foresight to hit up the farmer’s market at Union Square on my way to work and picked up wild ramps, broccoli rabe, spring chives, dandelion greens, parsley, thyme, sage and oregano. I also went to our regular butcher – a little Hungarian meat market on 2nd avenue – and got ground veal for the meatballs. Jon and I thought that part of this dinner would make a good bite, and so we pared it down to the meatball, topped with the ramps, broccoli rabe and beef jus.

Ingredients (Serves 10)

For the Meatballs:

3 lbs ground veal
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 cup brown ale (we used Newcastle. You could also use red wine)
1 tbsp Dijon
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Sage leaves

For the Beef Jus:

1 shell steak, bone-in


2 medium carrots, rough chop
1 medium parsnip, rough chop
1/2 white onion, large dice
1/2 red onion, large dice
1/2 fennel bulb, large dice
4 cloves garlic, minced

To Deglaze:

1 cup sherry
1 cup white wine
1/2 qt mushroom stock
1 qt beef stock


2 bay leaves
16 black peppercorns
1/2 bunch fresh thyme, parsley, and oregano

For the  vegetables:

1 bunch broccoli rabe
1 bunch ramp leaves, bulbs removed


For the Beef Jus:

For this jus I used a shell steak with the bone in because that’s what I had in my freezer – but you can really use whatever you like. If you have some beef bones or anything of that nature, it really will work well in this jus, which is full of so many delicious mirepoix vegetables.

      1. Heat a saucepan on high heat. Coat with canola oil. When oil is near smoking, sear off the steak so that it forms a nice brown crust on both sides. Be sure not to burn the proteins that form at the bottom of the pan, these will flavor the sauce later when you deglaze the pan.

      2. When steak is golden brown, add the mirepoix vegetables and sweat until they begin to get some color. Add the garlic and shallots and sweat for an additional minute or two.

      3. Deglaze with sherry and white wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up all of the browned deliciousness off the bottom of the pan.  Allow alcohol to cook off until reduced by half.

      4. Add the ½ qt of mushroom stock and the quart of beef stock. Add bay, peppercorns and fresh herbs and allow to reduce for 1 ½ hours on medium-low heat.

      5. When jus has reduced and is flavorful, strain through a fine chinois and pour over seared meatballs. The jus will later be further reduced and used as the sauce.

For the Meatballs:

      1. In a large glass bowl, combine all ingredients gently with clean hands. Do not overwork the meat to prevent meatballs from becoming tough.

      2. If sage leaves are large, you may slice them in half with a sharp knife, or leave whole if leaves are small. Wrap each meatball with a single leaf / half leaf. You may need to secure with a toothpick until meatballs have been seared.

      3. Heat a large sauté pan and coat with a thin layer of canola oil. Begin searing off meatball in batches – do not crowd the pan. You do not need to cook the meatballs all the way through as they will finish cooking in the oven.

      4. When all the meatballs have been seared, remove toothpicks if necessary, and arrange them in a large glass baking dish. Pour beef jus over them and bake at 350° for 10 minutes until fully cooked through.

      5. Allow meatballs to rest in jus for 5 minutes and serve with pasta or warm French bread.

For the Vegetables

      1. Blanch broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling, heavily salted water. Shock in an ice bath and chop into 2-inch lengths.

      2. Separate ramp bulbs from leaves and reserve bulbs for another use, maybe pickling. Clean ramp leaves and dry well. Cut into 2-inch lengths and sauté in olive oil.

For the Bite

      1. To make the sauce for the bite, we used the beef jus. Reduce the jus until it is nearly a glaze and mount with butter.

      2. To assemble the bite, top the meatball with the ramp leaves and broccoli rabe. Sauce liberally and snack away.

© 2010 Jonathan Meter and Jessica Hertle

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Dora Ficher April 28, 2010 at 7:25 am

Jon & Jessi, Congratulations on your 1st post. I love how you start out telling us the story about your Sunday dinners and all the last minute preparations that go into it. I love stories so that brought me right in. It makes me want to know more, and of course makes me want to come and drop by one of these Sundays.

The recipe is very clear and it’s easy to understand each step.

The photos are awesome and give it the: “wow, that looks so good, I want to try it” (and I’m writing this at 7am). All around wonderful and Yummy! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

jul swann April 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

i look forward to many recipes to come!!!! nice place to visit!

BigGirlPhoebz April 28, 2010 at 9:37 am

Congrats Jon and Jess! The site looks great, as do the food and photos (obviously).


Pengel April 28, 2010 at 9:43 am


Man, I can’t wait until websites get scratch and sniff technology. Get on that Steve Jobs.

Bonnie April 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

WOW to both the chef and the photographer. What a great idea!! I am sending this web to all the chefs that I know. I am salivating. You two make a perfect “pear”. Love, Bonnie

Dorothy Hertle April 28, 2010 at 10:57 am

Contratulations Jessica and Jon. Your site looks great and the “bite” looks amazing. I like your little story up front. The recipe is totally overwhelming – but well-written for those ambitious enough to try it. Personally I’d rather come to Chez Jessica and Jon and eat it. Or at the very least, maybe you can save me a bite and I will happily have it for lunch.

The photos are fabulous…what a team!
Ilook forward to many more bites.

stanley April 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Those were some great meatballs

Kristin Bernet April 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Great Food, great recipe and mouth-watering photos. When do I get to come for dinner? In the mean time keep up the good work and I’ll continue to read/devour your posts.

Claudia Beckerman April 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Jonathan and Jessica, this is really wonderful! It looks so yummy! Can’t wait til you invite me for a Sunday night dinner. I love the site. You guys are really going to make it, you have great talent!!!

juan gabriel veiga (kolo) April 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Queridos Jonathan y Jessica, los felicito por el blog, las cosas que estan creando parecen exquicitas, les mando un afectuoso abrazo desde bue, argentina, los invito a visitar mi blog y seria genial que me envien la receta de las albondiguitas para publicarla en el blog en “Cocina a bordo”, ademas los invito a agragarse como seguidores del blog y yo hare lo mismo en el de Uds. Gabriel

Amélie Gagné April 29, 2010 at 2:07 am

Fantastic…! My mouth is watering.. Very nice discovery thanks to Dora…!

gerbiss April 30, 2010 at 7:01 am

looks awesome!! congrats guys.
-Uncle Gerry

Nan Socolow May 6, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Absolutely inspired idea! congratulations photographer and chef! – I loved the veal meatball w/ ramps and broccoli rabe – reminded me of a song the Andrews Sisters used to sing in the 1940s (ancient history, guys) – it was called “One Meatball”! By the way I tried to subscribe to your website but was informed that subscription form was invalid. Thanks – Nan on Cayman Brac, British West Indies

mareia delgsado June 17, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Have your cake and eat it kind of a dillema. What should today’s brides do? Have a great reception or save for a home? I would choose the second without a doubt

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: