For the beans
500g dried borlotti beans, or 2 tins
2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
250g smoky slab bacon (optional)
For the meatballs
900g minced lamb
3 tbsp dried mixed herbs
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 medium white onion, grated
1 medium clove of garlic, grated
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
200-250g fresh breadcrumbs or finely ground panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp coarse salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 litre beef or lamb stock
For the Vegetables
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
15 large shallots, peeled and quartered
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 head of endive (about 200g)
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
Handful of celery leaves
If using dried beans, soak them overnight in enough room temperature water to cover. The next day, drain the dried or tinned beans and place them in a saucepan with about 1.2 litres of water along with the salt, bay leaf, and bacon (if using).
Simmer over a low heat for 1 to 2 hours, or until the centre of the beans have a creamy texture. Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs by combining the lamb, mixed herbs, rosemary, onion, garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix with clean hands until well combined.
Heat half of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Form one small meatball and sauté until the meat is no longer pink, which should take 4 to 5 minutes. Taste the meatball and adjust the seasoning of the meat mixture as needed, such as adding more salt.
Use an ice cream scoop to form 24 evenly-sized meatballs and lay them on a rimmed baking sheet. Alternatively, divide the mixture into four and make six meatballs from each part.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, brown the meatballs on all sides, allowing 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Drain the fat from the pot, then return the meatballs to the pan. Add enough beef or lamb stock to cover them.
Bring the liquid to a simmer over a medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and allow the meatballs to cook gently until they are cooked through.
Remove the meatballs from the braising liquid with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large platter or baking sheet. Tent the platter with foil to keep the meatballs warm. Strain the braising liquid and reserve.
For the vegetables, heat a large sauté pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper, then cook for about 10 minutes while stirring occasionally until golden. To prepare the endive, trim the end, separate the leaves and cut each into 5cm pieces then rinse well.
Add the endive to the pan, season again and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until just wilted. Add the cooked borlotti beans and about 60ml of the reserved braising liquid, stirring to combine.
To serve, spoon the vegetable and bean mixture into bowls with some of the pan juices. Top each with three or four meatballs then garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh parsley and celery leaves.