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Roman-Style Meatballs with Gnocchi alla Romana

Made with ground beef, pork and bits of prosciutto, these hearty Roman meatballs are simmered in a tomato sauce and paired with gnocchi alla Romana (see related recipe at left). To ensure tender meatballs, don’t overwork the ingredients; mix them gently until just combined. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 4 oz. finely chopped prosciutto 
  • 1 lb. ground beef 
  • 1 lb. ground pork 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano 
  • 6 Tbs. finely chopped fresh basil 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste  
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste 
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, diced 
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes with juices 
  • Gnocchi alla Romana for serving (see related recipe at left) 

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the prosciutto, ground beef, pork, eggs, cheese, parsley, oregano, 3 Tbs. of the basil, 3 of the minced garlic cloves, the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper. Add the soaked bread crumbs and mix gently until combined. Divide the meat mixture into 1/4-cup portions and roll into balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

In an 11-inch French skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Working in 2 batches, brown the meatballs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.

In the same pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining 2 minced garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 Tbs. basil.

Add the meatballs to the pan and cook, turning occasionally and basting with the sauce, until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with the gnocchi alla Romana alongside. Serves 6 to 8.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.