A Tavola’s Spaghetti con Polpette (Spaghetti Meatballs)

This was recommended to me by the editor of Gourmet Traveller magazine so I just had to try it (that doesn’t happen to me everyday!). It was featured in their winter copy of their magazine in 2010 and is on their wesbite at time of writing. Normally I wouldn’t bother to make meatballs – it never seemed like it was worth the effort of making all those little balls. But these… wow.. the flavour is amazing. They are definitely worth the effort and the effort is not really that much. Unlike other recipes, I haven’t altered this a bit – its perfect the way it is. I am just afraid to lose it so best get it into the blog!


  • 500g dried spaghetti

Salsa al pomodoro (tomato sauce)

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1.5 L tomato passata
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 10 basil leaves torn
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Polpette (Meatballs)

  • 80g of coarsely torn white italian bread
  • 100ml milk
  • 2 tablspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3 slices mild pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 1 anchovy fillet, finely chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 150g minced pork
  • 150g minced veal
  • 150g minced chicken thigh
  • 1 cup loosely packed, chopped curly parsely
  • 25g finely grated parmasan
  • 25g finely grated pecorino (replace with more parmasan if none available)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg


  1. For salsa al pomodoro, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and chilli, cook until garlic starts to colour (1-2 minutes). Add passata, stock and basil. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, add oregano and simmer until thick and well flavoured (45mins – 1 hour).
  2. Remove from heat, add extra olive oil, season to taste, set aside.
  3. Combine bread and milk in a bowl and set aside until bread softens (5mins).
  4. Preheat the oven to 160 deg C
  5. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan over low heat, add onion and garlic and stir occasionally until tender (7-1omins). Don’t be tempted to rush this – the flavour imparted in the slow cooking and soft texture make all the difference.
  6. Add pancetta and rosemary and cook until anchovy dissolves and pancetta is tender (8-10mins). Don’t rush this either.
  7. Deglaze with wine, cook until liquid evaporates (3-5 mins) and set aside to cool in a large bowl (discard rosemary sprig).
  8. Squeeze excess milk from bread (discard milk), add to onion mixture with pork, veal and chicken mince, parsley, cheeses and nutmeg and stir to combine. Season to taste.
  9. Roll into walnut size balls and cover the base of a baking dish. Using wet hands makes the meatball rolling easier.
  10. Pour the salsa al pomodoro over the meatballs, cover with foil and bake for around 35-45 mins.
  11. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain toss through polpette and sauce, season to taste and serve with parmasan and pecorino cheese.
  12. Yum!!!
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