Roman style meatballs in tomato sauce

Roman style meatballs in tomato sauce, by Frank Bordoni, works as a perfect family meal
By Frank Bordoni
Roman style meatballs in tomato sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus chilling time for the meatballs
  • Effort: medium


For the sauce

  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 450 g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 800 g tomato passata
  • 70 g tomato purée
  • 170 ml red wine, such as Chianti Classico
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 bunches sweet basil

For the meatballs

  • 4 spicy Italian sausages
  • 400 g lean minced beef
  • 1/2 loaf Italian sourdough bread, with crust
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 125 g parmesan, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped


1. For the sauce: put a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Tip in the garlic and onion until they start to sweat; you should see little bubbles around them in the oil.

2. Reduce the heat and add the oregano and bay leaf. Allow to cook for a further 3-4 minutes then add the tomatoes, passata, tomato purée and red wine. Stir in the sugar and season with salt and pepper.

3. Increase the heat and bring the sauce to the boil stirring occasionally. Adjust the heat and keep the sauce on a slow simmer for 1 hour. You will need to stir the sauce from time to time to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan. If the sauce thickens too much, due to the liquid evaporating, add a little water.

4. For the meatballs: put the sausage meat and minced beef in a large glass bowl.

5. Run the bread under the tap until it softens and becomes gluey. Squeeze out any excess water and push into the bowl.

6. Add the egg, parsley, cheese and garlic and season well with salt and pepper. Work all the ingredients together in a bowl with your hands and shape into golf ball sized pieces. Chill in the fridge to become firm.

7. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or frying pan over a high heat and brown the meatballs for 2-3 minutes all over. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

8. Put the meatballs into the sauce and cook for 15-20 minutes. Taste and season if necessary and lastly add the basil.

9. Serve with chunks of fresh sourdough bread or over pasta.

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