Meatballs, Bologna Style


1,000 Italian Recipes

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This recipe is my adaptation of a dish at Trattoria Gigina in Bologna. Though it is as homespun as any meatball recipe, the mortadella in the meat mixture and cream in the tomato sauce make it seem a little more sophisticated.

Makes6 servings


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Mealdinner, lunch


Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, meaty, savory


  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small tender celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups tomato puree
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 8 ounces mortadella, finely chopped
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare the sauce: In a large saucepan or deep heavy skillet, cook the onion, carrot, and celery in the olive oil over medium heat until golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato, cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer.

  2. Prepare the meatballs: Place the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. With your hands, thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients. Rinse your hands in cool water to prevent sticking, then lightly shape the mixture into 2-inch balls.

  3. Transfer the meatballs into the simmering sauce. Cover and cook, turning the meatballs occasionally, until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.


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