Spicy Pork & Fennel Polpette (Meatballs)                   April 2020


Spicy Pork & Fennel Polpette (Meatballs)

It is said pasta with meatballs was invented in America and is not a part of Italian food tradition. We all remember the meatballs in the Disney cartoon  Lady and the Tramp or Clemenza cooking meatballs in the Godfather.

Wherever it was invented we have been eating and enjoying meatballs with pasta for more years than I can remember, in Italy, England and the USA. It’s a fantastic family meal, like an enormous hug from a favourite uncle or finding a tenner (£10) in the pocket of an old pair of trousers.

It's easy to make and can be cooked in advance (tastes even better the next day) and is a good inexpensive delicious meal.

For the recipe go to

It's not on the site yet but will be later today.

The sauce (makes 1.5 litres)


100ml extra virgin olive oil

1 white onion, finely sliced

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/2 tbsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Small pinch chilli flakes

750g fresh tomatoes

3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes (try and get really nice ones, defo worth it here)

1 small handful of oregano, finely chopped

Pinch of caster sugar if necessary


Heat half the oil in a large saucepan and sweat the onion, garlic, salt, pepper and chilli on a medium heat for about 15 minutes. When transparent, add the fresh tomatoes and the rest of the oil and cook on a low-medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave to bubble on the lowest heat for about 1 hour. Turn off the heat and add the heat and add the oregano and basil. Taste and see if it needs any sugar. When you’re pleased with the taste, blend with a hand blender or in a food blender.

The Polpette (Serves 6 people)


1.5 kg minced pork

3 medium free-range eggs

150g breadcrumbs

Large pinch of dried chilli flakes

20g fennel seeds, lightly toasted and ground in a pestle and mortar

Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

1.5 litres tomato sauce


Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Put the pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, chilli flakes, ground fennel seeds, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl and massage thoroughly. Roll into 45g balls and place them on a greased baking tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes, turning once until they are starting to brown.

Poach meatballs in the tomato sauce for 10 minutes. 

Serve with spaghetti and a grating of Parmesan.

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Jason’s Wine recommendations

One of my favourites is Greco di Tufo

Greco di Tufo from Campania in Italy. 

Tre Fiori, Greco di Tufo at Waitrose - £8.79

Spaghetti with clams – If this dish is the classic Italian style without tomatoes then the classic pairing would be a Pinot Grigio, but remember it’s better to pay a little more with this wine as quality improves dramatically from the bargain level stuff widely available. If the dish has tomatoes aswell then the wine needs to have a greater intensity and one of my favourites is Greco di Tufo from Campania in Italy. Tre Fiori, Greco di Tufo at Waitrose - £8.79