Authentic Italian Meatball Recipe | How to Make the Perfect Meatball
Updated: Apr 26
Looking for the best meatballs you've ever tried in life? Look no further! This is the authentic recipe of Eva's mother, Mamma Rosa, and it yields oh-so-good "polpette." The meatballs themselves can be fried, cooked in a white wine sauce or simmered in tomato sauce. The latter is Mamma Rosa's favorite, so that's the method we'll be showing here.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where Mamma Rosa makes this recipe here:
Makes about 16 meatballs.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 800g (28oz.) canned whole peeled tomatoes
- 800ml (28oz.) water
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 chili pepper, sliced (optional)
- 500g ground pork
- About 120-240g, or 1-2 cups, fresh breadcrumbs (see below)
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste (about 20g or 1/4 cup, see below)
- Grated pecorino cheese to taste (about 20g or 1/4 cup, see below)
- 2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
- Fresh black pepper
- 2 large eggs
Combine the olive oil, tomatoes, water, garlic and chili pepper in a medium saucepan. Season with a generous pinch of salt. *Please note that in the video, we made half the amount of sauce so don't be surprised if it seems like more.*
Bring to a simmer on the stovetop and cook, covered, for about 40 minutes. The tomatoes will soften enough that they can easily be crushed with a fork.
While the tomato sauce cooks, make the meatballs. In a mixing bowl, add the ground pork and begin gradually adding in the breadcrumbs while mixing by hand. The best breadcrumbs to use are fresh, i.e. freshly grated or food-processed bread. Dry breadcrumbs can be used as an alternative but please note that you will likely need less of them.
The amount of breadcrumbs needed will vary substantially on their quality, so trust your instincts! The mixture should end up being soft but not wet or sticky, and just firm enough to mold into balls. If in doubt, use less as you can always add more later.
When the breadcrumbs are mixed in, add equal parts grated pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. As Mamma Rosa says, add the cheese "according to your feeling." We recommend trying about 1/4 cup each. Like a lot of cheese? Go ahead and add more. Mix thoroughly.
Season the mixture with chopped parsley and a generous pinch each of black pepper and salt. Finally, add 2 eggs and mix all together. At this point, pay attention to the consistency again. If it's too soft and sticky, add more breadcrumbs as needed.
When you're happy with the mixture, it's time to roll the meatballs! Roll 2-inch diameter balls by hand and set aside on a plate.
After the sauce has finished cooking, gently add the meatballs into the saucepan. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are fully cooked through the center.
Serve immediately. Buon appetito!