Here’s a classic Italian sauce, which uses high-quality veal stock combined with vegetables and herbs. Take your time making this sauce and let it gently reduce to develop flavour. 

800 g





Skill level

Average: 3.1 (17 votes)


  • 250 g (9 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
  • warm water, for soaking
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 100 g (3½ oz) tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) white wine
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) veal stock
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf  (Italian) parsley
  • 1 thyme sprig, leaves picked and finely chopped

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the warm water until they become soft and rehydrated. Slice the porcini mushrooms and set aside.

Heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and start cooking the onion and garlic. Add the celery and cook for several minutes until golden. Add the mushrooms, stir in the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Add the white wine and reduce for a minute or two.

Add the veal stock and the lemon zest, and simmer gently for at least 30 minutes. Finish by adding the parsley and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer for another 3–5 minutes.


Recipe and image from Meatballs by Matteo Bruno (Murdoch Books, $35, hbk).