Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Real Food Series: Italian Meatballs in Pasata Bone Broth

Italian meatballs in pasata bone broth

My mum was born in Italy and migrated here when she was 4 years old. That's where my love of food comes from - my Mum. Mum was always in the kitchen and could make something amazing without a recipe and little ingredients. Everything she makes has so much love put in. It makes it taste better, it really does. 

This recipe is my Nonna's with a few editions from me. Make sure you give these a go, they really are so easy to make and are such a delicious meal. I love them the next day for lunch just in the broth/ sauce or on some sourdough toast for breakfast!

Made using pork and veal mince cooked in tomato passata and homemade beef bone broth. We like ours without the pasta, but if you must, try a small amount of good quality fresh egg pasta. Serve with a bowl of vegetables (well cooked dressed with butter, olive oil, sea salt and pepper). 

This recipes makes about 50 meatballs approx. size 4cm. As a guide I easily eat 7 for one meal...

From the pantry

500 grams pork mince
1kg pastured veal mince (you can use beef mince, it will just change the flavour slightly)
7-8 organic pastured eggs
500 grams homemade breadcrumbs - I use organic spelt sourdough
300 grams parmigiano reggiano (aka real parmesan - did you know its made with raw milk) + the rind
500mls (2 cups) homemade beef bone broth/stock (recipe coming)
3 x 700gram jars tomato passata or crushed tomatoes. Do not use tinned tomatoes - acidity in the tomatoes leach the BPA lining.
Half a bunch of parsley - chopped
sea salt & a little pepper
coconut oil
cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

(organic whereever possible)

Lets begin

1. Make the breadcrumbs. I use stale spelt sourdough and wiz it up in the thermomix to make the crumbs. Don't dry them out in the oven as you want them to be soft. Please don't use the packet ones from the supermarket, they are just not the same and are too dry. 

2. Remove the rind from the parmesan and set aside. Then either grate the parmesan or wiz it up in a mixer so that it is fine. 

2. Put the sauce on to cook - gently saute a red onion (small/ big it really doesn't matter) until translucent. Now of course my Nonna would use olive oil, however I choose to use coconut oil (I save the olive oil for pouring on at the end so it is not heated*)

3. Now pour in your tomato pasata and homemade beef bone broth/ stock (even if this is frozen I just pop it all in together). You want the sauce to be quite thin. Add good amount of sea salt and the rind of the parmesan. 

4. Once the sauce is warm and simmer away, taste and adjust salt accordingly. If it is too acid, add one teaspoon of sugar (I use coconut sugar) to balance out the acidity. ( I find with the addition of bone broth the sauce has a lovely flavour and no sugar needed). Simmer on very low heat with lid on or just ajar for as long as you want - I usually start sauce at least 1 hour before I make the meatballs. 

UPDATE: The longer the sauce simmers the better - you want it fairly thin, so if it is still thick after addition of beef broth, add filtered water to thin down.

5. To make the meatballs, combine the mince, eggs, parsley, breadcrumbs and parmesan in a large bowl. Season with sea salt and pepper. Nonna tastes them at this point...yep raw....I don't as I don't mince my own meat like her. Make sure you combine everything really well. Adjust the breadcrumbs and egg to reach desired consistency which is not too sloppy and not too dry - you want them to hold together nicely. 

UPDATE: Add a few tablespoons of the sauce into the mix for flavour 

6. Roll into balls about 4cm in diameter and as you make them put them into the sauce which should be slowly simmering on the stove - fill the pot of sauce right up with meatballs ensuring they are totally covered. I usually find you need to do two batches.* 

UPDATE: Simmer for at least 20 minutes with lid on until cooked through. 

7. Serve with lots of the broth/ sauce, a good glug or two of olive oil and as much parmesan you can convince your husband/ partner/ friend to grate for you!

Measurements are estimates, I go on look, feel and taste when I cook - so you may need to add a little more bone stock to thin the sauce or another egg to bind the mixture or more breadcrumbs - just have a go, they will taste great. 

If you make them, please pop back and tell me what you think.

*Make the first batch and then serve up your evening meal, while you are eating the second batch can be cooking in the remaining sauce.  

Have you entered my giveaway to win a $80 Kelani Fabric gift voucher?


  1. Oh yay I will give this recipe a try for sure. With regards to the BPA in the tomato cans what about the BPA in the jars (the plastic under the lids on the inside)? Just curious. I still buy cans only because jars have the BPA too. Cassie

    1. I buy the Eden Organic crushed tomatoes in an amber jar...they mention on their website that they put a protective layer between the BPA in the lid and the tomatoes....it seems it is not possible to get a lid without BPA?! Bizarre in this world of so much technology. Anyhow I would argue that this is far better option than the tinned where there is no protective layer between the BPA and tomatoes :)


  2. I'm loving this series Natalie. Thanks so much for all these yummy nourishing recipes. x

  3. oh yum. I will definitely be having a go at these- any recipe that comes from a Nonna is a winner in my book ;)sarah

  4. thanks for the recipe. sounds great. will have to try and get some organic free range pork before i try this though. do you think you could use all pork or is it simply better to have a mix?

    1. Hi Jo...I think you really need the mix. If I was going to leave any meat out it would be the pork (I am not really a fan of pork in general) Have it on my list of things to post about, however briefly it is quite high in PUFAs (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) - same as Chicken. We limit chicken to once every 2 weeks. Yes def try to get organic free range pork, otherwise perhaps just try veal or veal and beef. Happy cooking - let me know how you go x

  5. hello dear natalie,
    I wonder about the parmesan rind, what is this for and are you putting it in whole for flavour, or grating/whizzing it up finely to become part of the sauce?

  6. Like you, I owe the way I cook to my mum. And whilst my mum's meatballs are the best I've ever tasted, I'm still definitely going to give yours a go!

  7. Hi Natalie, I just wanted to stop by to say that I made this for our fathers day dinner tonight. It was absolutely delicious :) The best I've ever made. So thank you for your family recipe! I too used coconut oil, 8 large eggs and 3 cups of my beef stock. I'm interested to hear what you have to say about making beef stock. I've just started making my own stocks and I usually simmer the bones and vegetables for 6 to 8 hours. I know that there are faster methods like using an oven first...anyways, I'll be interested to know how you make yours.

    Thanks again xx

  8. Hello Natalie, just wanted to stop by and thank you for sharing this receipe. We had it for dinner tonight and it was absolutely delicious! My two little boys could not eat it quick enough. My 4 year old said 'we should eat this every day mummy'. So easy to make and so tasty. Thank you. Ange x

  9. Hi Natalie, I made these meatballs last week and they were the best meatballs I've ever made or eaten! Hubby and little Everly loved them too, and we are still going through leftovers from the freezer (this recipe made four dinners for us, which is amazing!) Thank you so much for this recipe, we will be using it again and again. x


Thanks for your sharing your thoughts. I love hearing from you and will respond to any questions in the comments sections. Natalie

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