Thanks to the chunks of polenta, these delicious balls make a hearty meal, even on their own. Pancetta, mushroom and a hint of truffle salt round out these meatballs and make them a certain hit. The warm polenta they are served with will go with almost any style of meatball - this recipe uses chicken stock but you can easily substitute it with vegetable stock to make it vegetarian.  






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (11 votes)







  • 65 g (2¼ oz) polenta (cornmeal), plus extra for coating
  • 100 g (3½ oz) pancetta pieces
  • 200 g (7 oz) portobello mushrooms, diced
  • 70 g (2½ oz) butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • ½ fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) pork
  • 200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) veal
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of truffle salt
  • zest of ½ orange
  • ½ (1 oz/¼ cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 10 sage leaves, chopped
  • olive oil spray, for baking
  • mushroom sauce or Italian veal jus, to serve


Creamy polenta

  • 800 ml (28 fl oz) milk
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) chicken stock
  • 240 g (8½ oz) polenta (cornmeal)
  • 80 g (2¾ oz/¾ cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 100 g (3½ oz) butter, cut into cubes
  • truffle oil (optional)
  • pinch of ground nutmeg,
    to taste (optional)

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.


Cooling time 30 minutes

For the meatballs, cook the polenta according to the packet instructions and set aside to cool until it becomes firm.

Add the pancetta to a dry frying pan and cook for several minutes over medium heat, then add the mushrooms, butter, garlic and chilli and a small drizzle of olive oil. Cook until the mushrooms take on a nice deep-brown colour and are soft to touch. This will take around 8 minutes. Set the mixture aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F) and add a small ovenproof saucer of water to the back of the oven to create humidity.

Break up the cooked polenta into small chunks.

Season the pork and veal in a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, including the polenta and the cooled pancetta mushroom mix. Combine thoroughly and form 50 g (1³/₄ oz) balls, then roll the balls in the extra (uncooked) polenta.

Carefully place the balls in a baking tray and gently spray them with olive oil spray. Bake in the humid oven for around 8 minutes. Serve with creamy polenta and sauce. 

For the creamy polenta, warm the milk and chicken stock in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Just before boiling point, add 1 tsp of salt and the polenta, stirring continuously with a whisk. Keep whisking until the polenta is cooked (it’s ready when it’s no longer grainy). This process should take 45 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir through the parmesan and butter. The final consistency should be thick and creamy. Add a drizzle of truffle oil and a sprinkling of nutmeg if you want.


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


View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.