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Meatballs with Eleanora

Eleanora Scarpetta, a friend of Martha's, makes a delicious southern Italian-style tomato sauce, which she serves alongside a generous portion of savory meatballs. While it simmers, this sauce gets a distinctive, hearty taste from the addition of various meats, including beef cutlets, pancetta (the Italian version of bacon), spare ribs, and sweet sausage; in turn, the process of slow simmering infuses the meats with a deep, rich flavor. Although Eleanora uses tomatoes she has canned herself, you can use the store-bought variety in this recipe.

  • Yield: Makes 20 meatballs.
Meatballs with Eleanora


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground top sirloin
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 pound ground veal
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 slice Italian bread, soaked in water
  • 3/4 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil


  1. Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, combine top sirloin, pork, veal, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add cheese, parsley, and eggs. Squeeze water from bread. Tear into small pieces, and add to meat mixture. Add 3/4 cup bread crumbs; stir to combine.

  3. With damp hands, form 1/4 cup mixture into a ball. Repeat with remaining mixture.

  4. Heat light olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is very hot, add meatballs in one layer. Cook until golden brown all over, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to prepared baking sheet to drain.

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