Thursday, 18 October 2012

Polpette - Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Homemade meatballs and homemade pasta

A few years ago Rosa Mitchell joined the company where I worked to establish a restaurant during the day and then the  kitchen was used as a cooking school in the evening.  We would often enjoy her homemade food at lunchtime and she would cater for our Board meetings where she shared the love of her Sicilian cooking. I am happy to say I have a  signed copy of her book which I love, called My Cousin Rosa.  We have cooked many things from this book and she has since added a couple more to her collection. One of my favourite recipes from this book is Polpette or meatballs in tomato sauce.

I know what you are thinking, how different can meatballs be, meatballs are meatballs, everyone can make them, but these meatballs and sauce are so good I have made them again and again.

I have altered the meatball mix slightly by reducing the amount of breadcrumbs but this still feeds a large family easily, and is great when you are feeding my hungry hoards.

1kg coarsely minced topside beef
500g minced pork
160g fresh white breadcrumbs(I have used less than this)
150g grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
4 eggs
185 ml olive oil
2 onions chinely chopped
2.5kg tinned Italian chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves

How to do it
Mix together the meat, breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, parsley and season with salt and pepper  - use your hands for this.
Add 3 lightly beaten eggs and mix again
The miture should come together, if it feels too dry add a little of the 4th egg but don't make it too wet or the meatballs will fall apart.
Start making your balls. The size is up to you, but roll firmly so they do not fall apart.
Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a pan that is large enough to later hold all the meatballs.
Fry the onions until soft, then add the tomatoes and cook over a low heat, siring occasionally.
Heat the rest of the oil in a non-stick frying pan and add some of the meatballs, don't overcrowd.  Brown on all sides until golden.
When browned add them to the tomato sauce pan.
When all the meatballs are added to the sauce, add the bay leaves, season and cover and simmer for about 1 hour.
This serves at least 6 very generously.
These freeze well.

Rosa says in an Italian home this would make two meals: the sauce would be served with pasta and the meatballs eaten as a main course with salad. To be honest I could eat them any way them come.


  1. Great idea to make this do two meals, both of which would be truly delicious. But `like you I could eat them any way they come. How fabulous to have someone so good at cooking right in your office. What a treat! GG

    1. This is such a nice book I have also made and blogged her cauliflower fritters. Board meetings were a draw card purely for the supper!

  2. I love meatballs and the Sicilians seem to do them the best. I love how there's two types of mince in these meatballs. I would love to try this recipe xx

    1. This recipe is lovely and really I don't know why as the ingredients are so plain. Maybe its the long cooking time and the tomatoes grow in depth. This can be easily made in advance.

  3. Love meatballs - what a great idea of making double and freezing half for another day.

  4. Me too and so economical. A great dish to have in the freezer when you are pushed for time or just can't be bothered cooking.

  5. I adore meatballs and those look amazing, plus, perfect for northern hemisphere comfort food right now! Great recipe, Karen

    1. Karen, I had these meatballs and pasta for lunch today at work (I took them from the freezer) everyone said how delicious they smelt. I didn't share.

  6. Cheers to Rosa and to you. These sound fabulous. Your poor workmates -it must have been torture to get the delicious smell without an accompanying satisfying meal.

    1. Thank you for popping by Hester - Having Rosa's cooking on tap did nothing for our waistlines I can tell you.

  7. I should make this - look delicious! I love food blogs :)

    1. Go on - you won't be disappointed! Thanks for your comment.