Rich Italian Meatballs

This recipe was given to me by a well-travelled friend who has a fabulous Italian cookery book. I’ve tweaked it a bit but it’s still very authentic and is absolutely delicious. This is a big batch recipe that makes approximately 30 meatballs. I usually serve 4-5 meatballs per person depending on appetite (his’n’hers portions). They freeze beautifully, but if there isn’t enough tomato sauce for your liking, simply heat through using another tin of cherry tomatoes as per the recipe.


You will need a frying pan large enough to hold all the meatballs in a single layer in the tomato sauce. If you don’t have one, cook them in two batches. I fry them in small batches to start as it’s easier to turn them.


100ml milk

1 slice good quality bread, crusts removed

500g each of beef and pork mince

1 small white onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 

1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tbsp oregano, chopped

1 egg, beaten

20g grated Parmesan

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Polenta to roll the meatballs in

2 x 400g good quality tinned cherry (preferably) or plum tomatoes. If using plum tomatoes, add a pinch of sugar to taste as they aren’t quite as sweet as cherry tomatoes.


Put the milk and bread in a saucepan, bring to the boil and mash until blended. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, put the meat, onion, garlic, herbs, nutmeg and cheese. Add the milk/ bread mixture and a beaten egg, season well and squidge together with your hands until well combined.

Put some polenta in a large shallow bowl or on a plate; lightly roll the meat mixture into balls approximately 1” in diameter (don’t  make them too firm, they’ll firm up as they cook); roll each ball lightly in the polenta to coat.

In a large frying pan, gently fry the meatballs in small batches until golden brown. Turn them carefully to prevent them splitting and breaking. Set aside until they’re all cooked. 

Add the cherry tomatoes to the empty pan, season well with salt and black pepper then add the meatballs in a single layer, rolling in the tomato sauce as they go into the pan. If your pan isn’t big enough, split the batch and do half the meatballs and one tin of tomatoes at a time. Cover then pan and cook for approximately 25 minutes, turning once or twice more until the sauce has thickened.

Serve with pasta and a good grating of parmesan cheese.