Spicy Pork Meatballs with Polenta

This just screams comfort food. Reading through the recipe it feels like it can be big on heat if you have someone with touchy taste buds. Cutback on the pepper flakes and other ingredients to taste. With the way this is written you could also make a great deal of the “parts” ahead of time and then throw it in the oven before you need to serve it.

Serves 8

Ingredients:Spicy Meat Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground pork shoulder

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 teaspoons chile flakes

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 (28-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)


Creamy Polenta:

9 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups polenta

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter


Pork Meatballs:

2 pounds ground pork shoulder

4 slices white bread, minced in a food processor (about 3 1/2 cups)

3 eggs

4 pickled hot cherry peppers, minced

1/4 cup hot cherry pepper pickling liquid

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil


To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the ground pork, onions, chile flakes, and salt; sauté until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the onions are soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and stir constantly until the sauce begins to boil. Continue cooking for 35 minutes stirring ever 4 or 5 minutes to prevent the sauce from burning. Remove from heat, let cool, and refrigerate until needed.

To make the polenta, combine the water and salt in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil. Whisk in the polenta and continue whisking until the water reaches a boil again. Lower the heat to the lowest setting and continue to cook for an hour, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the cream, Parmesan, and butter. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

To make the meatballs, preheat the oven to 450ºF. 

Put the ground pork, minced bread, eggs, cherry peppers, pepper liquid, and salt in a large bowl. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined.

Drizzle the olive oil into a large 9 x 13-inch baking dish, coating the entire surface evenly. Roll the meat mixture into 24 golf ball–sized meatballs, packing the meat firmly. Arrange the meatballs into even and snug rows in the oiled baking dish. Roast until firm, about 14 minutes. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the dish.

Reheat the sauce over medium-low heat. To serve, divide polenta among 8 plates; top each serving with 3 meatballs and a cup of sauce.

From: James Beard Foundation


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