Tiny Meatballs: Polpettine

Total Time:
55 min
25 min
Inactive Prep:
30 min
24 to 30 meatballs, 4 to 6 servings


  • 3/4 pound ground lean meat (combination veal and pork)
  • 1 cup freshly grated bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated pecorino
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 whole egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 8 drained canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, mint, or oregano
    • Directions

      Using your hands and working quickly, combine meat, bread crumbs, grated cheese, parsley, garlic, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

      In a pan with sides tall enough for deep-frying, heat 1 cup oil to 360 degrees F. While the oil is heating, form meat mixture into little balls no more than 3/4-inch in diameter. When oil is hot, add the meatballs, a few at a time, and fry until brown on all sides. As they finish cooking, set aside to drain on paper towels.

      Gently stew the tomatoes and onion in 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat, crushing tomatoes with a fork as they cook, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is dense. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Transfer to a food processor or food mill and process briefly to make a smooth puree.

      Return puree to the pan, add drained meatballs, and let bubble over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to absorb flavors. Just before serving, stir in fresh herbs.