clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon
meatballs and polenta

Meatballs and Polenta from The Barbuto Cookbook by Jonathan Waxman

  • Author: adapted from The Barbuto Cookbook
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 - 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian American


meatballs on creamy polenta with homemade tomato sauce



  • 4 TBS olive oil, divided
  • 2 onions, peeled and minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground meat (equal parts beef, veal and pork)
  • 1/2 cup minced proscuitto
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 4 TBS heavy cream
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 5 large tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks or 1 can (16oz) San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, separate stems from leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups ground corn for polenta
  • 4 TBS Parmesan cheese


  • In a large saucepan heat 2 TBS of the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions and garlic until transluscent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a large bowl mix together the ground meats, salt and black pepper.
  • Mix in the garlic/onions, proscuitto, breadcrumbs, the eggs, the Gruyere, and 2 TBS of the cream. Chill for 1 hour.
  • Roll the mixture into 1 1/2″ balls
  • In a large saucepan heat 2 TBS and 1 TBS butter over medium heat until frothy.Saute the meatballs until golden on all sides. Then add the tomatoes and their juices and the basil stems.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through. Keep warm.
  • While the meatballs and sauce cook, make the polenta.
  • In a saucepan heat the 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt until simmering.
  • Slowly pour in the cornmeal stirring with a wooden spoon, and cook gently for 1 hour adding more water if the polenta looks dry.
  • When the polenta is cooked add in the remaining 2 TBS butter, 2 TBS cream and season with salt.
  • Gently cut the basil leaves into strips and add to the sauce.
  • To serve: place the polenta on a plate, top with the sauce and meatballs. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan cheese


How I changed the recipe:

  • I used eggplant meatballs so I did not try this meatball recipe
  • I made the tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes. I let them cook until they were soft, then I added eggplant meatballs
  • I found that my polenta did not need to cook for near as long as indicated. It was done within 2o minutes.
  • I added the basil to the polenta for a change of flavor.


Keywords: meatballs, polenta, Barbuta, comfort food