What We’re Eating Again: Pork & Beef Polpette with Basic Tomato Sauce from “Polpo”


Polpo meatballs and tomato sauce is firmly on the list of our family’s high rotation meals. It’s such a favourite that it guarantees a round of cheers and applause when I announce that it’s for dinner.

With that sort of reception, why wouldn’t I make it all the time?

When I was looking up the previous post, I was surprised to see I’ve been making the Polpo meatballs since March 2013— almost four years ago. Though I suppose that also speaks to its staying power: we loved it then, and despite all the dinners I’ve made between now and then, including other meatball recipes, we love it still.

Unusually, I haven’t altered this recipe in any way. I follow it to the letter. The same goes for the tomato sauce, which is absolutely delicious. But the tomato sauce only happens when I’m forward thinking enough to get it started in the afternoon. You can get it done in an hour, but it really shines when you give the ingredients time to mix, mingle and get to know one another before serving it up.

Also, the yield on this recipe is enormous, but actually that’s a good thing. With all of the leftovers, I do one of three things: freeze the remaining, make meatball subs a few days later (yum! highly recommended) or put the meatballs on one of our pizzas on pizza night (also highly recommended).

Perhaps I’m being stupidly effusive about this recipe, but I can’t underplay how much my family loves it. You should try it. You won’t be disappointed.

You can find the recipe on issuu, where it has an extract of the Polpo cookbook. The meatballs are on page 22-23. Unfortunately, the recipe for the tomato sauce isn’t there.

What We’re Eating Again: Pork & Beef Polpette with Basic Tomato Sauce from “Polpo”

Tonight’s Dinner: Arancini from “Polpo”

CBAMAranciniWhat We’re Eating Again: Arancini

From: “Poplo” – March 2013  (The original post can be found here.)

Why: This is a great way to use up leftover risotto. Unfortunately, in this house, we don’t have leftover risotto that often. But when we do, we try to use it this way.

Top Tips: Although I used fine corn meal this time, I dipping them in breadcrumbs also works. This is a real winner, particularly when you have people around for dinner. However, it’s really just an appetizer. You wouldn’t really be able to serve this as a main course.

Recipe Link: Google Books has kindly indexed this recipe. Highly recommended. 

Tonight’s Dinner: Arancini from “Polpo”

“Polpo” – Our Verdict

Kirstin: You cooked loads from this book, didn’t you Maureen. Did you like it?

Maureen: It’s a beautiful book. And I could see why it won the Waterstone’s book of the year.

Kirstin: Nooooo. Seriously?

Maureen: Yes! It’s true. But it’s very ambitious cooking, so it’s not something you can use on a week night.

Kirstin: I hardly cooked from this book, but I kept finding myself looking at the pictures. Even though some of them weren’t straight which was a little distracting.

Maureen: You would have thought they would have a photo editor who would have picked that up.

Kirstin: Well, exactly!

Maureen: Everything we cooked was fantastic even though it took a lot of effort! The tomato sauce took three hours to cook but it was sublime.

“Polpo” by Russell Norman: Our Conclusion

Overall Grade (A- F): A I’m looking forward to cooking from this when I’m grown up (Kirstin): A (Maureen)
Best recipes: Well I only cooked two, but they were both huge hits (Kirstin) John Dory was amazing and the meatballs with tomato sauce (Maureen)
Grade for Photography (A-F): A from both of us. I wasn’t sure if they were shot in film. Utterly gorgeous.
Any disasters? Kirstin: No. Maureen: No.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf. I will definitely keep this on my shelf for photographic inspiration. Maureen: Bookshelf, but not high rotation. There are fantastic recipes but they take some time, which is a good thing, but hard to do when you only have 30 minutes to make dinner on a Thursday night.

“Polpo” – Our Verdict

“Pork & Beef Polpette with Basic Tomato Sauce” from “Polpo”

Tim: You made the spicy hot ones, right?

Maureen: Ha ha ha.

Nicholas (9): NOOOOOOOO! You know how I feel about spicy food.

Tim: Ha ha. I’m just trolling you.

Nicholas: I do taste some spice in these.


Maureen: I don’t know why. There’s no hot spices  in there. (Editor’s Note: This is a TOTAL LIE. There is a pinch of chilli flakes and a fair amount of black pepper. Those parents in the audience, however, will understand why I did not divulge this to my spice-averse children.)

Andrew (13): I think the meatballs and the tomato sauce are very nice.

Maureen: This tomato sauce is delicious. You need to do some forward planning with it though, since it takes at least an hour and a half to make. Today it cooked for a little longer than that, which probably made it even better. I like how you use a combination of fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes, it gives it a much more interesting taste.

Tim: Was it complicated to make?

Maureen: Not at all. It just takes a lot of time. I think the meatballs are also great. They call themm polpette, but I can’t help myself. They are meatballs to me. I think I have found my go-to meatball recipe.

Tim: This meal is a triumph!

Maureen: I agree. This is absolutely full of yum. Would you like me to make it again?

All: Yes!

“Pork & Beef Polpette with Basic Tomato Sauce” from “Polpo”

“Burrata with Lentils & Basil Oil” from “Polpo”

Maureen: Another Meat Free Monday special.

Andrew (13): I’m sorry, but I have to say this: It could be presented better.

Maureen: Can you see me rolling my eyes? Are you catching that from across the table? And what, dear sir, is the problem?

Andrew: It just looks like a lump of things.

Maureen: Frankly, I think it looks good. Do you see how I artfully displayed the basil leaves? Maybe you should eat it, rather than just critiquing on appearance.


Andrew: I’ve actually tried it. It’s OK. But it could be better.

Nicholas (9) (Taking a spoonful): Nope. I don’t like it. But I’ve never liked lentils anyway.

Maureen (Turning to Tim): Resident Lentil Lover, what do you say?

Tim: I like it. But I’d be interested to see what it’s like with burrata rather than mozzarella.

Maureen: Yes. He says that we should definitely seek out burrata. But the problem was there was none to be found anywhere in the neighbourhood this afternoon. If we’re going to have this again, I would need to engage in some forward planning to get the right cheese. But this time, we’ll have to make do with mozzarella.

Tim: It’s still good, though. The mustard dressing is nice.

Maureen: Yes, I like it. But I told you beforehand that the boys wouldn’t like this, and I was right.

Nicholas: I’m not so sure that Meat Free Monday is a good idea.

Maureen: Too bad. I’m sorry you don’t like this, but we’re going to continue with Meat Free Monday. It’s better for us, and for the planet. We’ll have pasta or risotto next week for Meat Free Monday, I promise. Then I think you would like it better.

“Burrata with Lentils & Basil Oil” from “Polpo”

“John Dory with Orange, Fine Herbs & Pink Peppercorns” from “Polpo”

Maureen: Fish Friday!

Nicholas (9): I’m not so sure about Fish Friday anymore.

Maureen: What do you mean? We’re doing our bit for the planet by eating less meat, and we’re doing our bit for ourselves, by eating more fish, which is good for us.

Andrew (13): I do have fish and chips every Friday at school.

Maureen: Well, sure, but it’s good that we’re doing it as a family too. What do you think?

Tim: It’s delicious.


Maureen: I think this is the best thing I’ve made so far out of the cookbook. I might be swooning right now. But I can’t tell if it’s because I like the recipe, or if the John Dory is just an excellent fish to eat.

Tim: Could be either. Or both.

Maureen: The woman at the fishmonger said John Dory is her favourite fish.

Tim: I think the pink peppercorns sort of overwhelm it.

Maureen: I’m not sure I agree. They look pretty, though.

Andew: I think it’s good.

Maureen: Should I make it again?

Andrew: Sure, I suppose so.

Tim: Yes. I think it’s nice. But maybe less peppercorns next time.

Nicholas: I’m not sure.

Maureen: I think it’s utterly delicious. We’re definitely having this again.

“John Dory with Orange, Fine Herbs & Pink Peppercorns” from “Polpo”

“Braised Scallops, Pancetta & Peas” from “Polpo”

Tim: I would like to note for the record that Andrew’s bowl is still 80 percent full.

Andrew (13): It’s good. I’m making progress on it.

TIm: Nicholas is making good progress, though.

Nicholas (9): I thought it was alright. I’m trying to find the pork.

Andrew: What’s in it? Is there pork in there?

Maureen: Yes, there’s pork. If we want to be technical, they are cubes of pancetta. The white round things are scallops.


Andrew: OK. Good to know.

Maureen: I thought this was nice. It seems very fresh, with all of the green vegetables in it.

Tim: Yes, but on the whole it seems a bit bland.

Maureen: You’re right. As Andrew would say, it’s lacking something. I don’t know what, but something.

Tim: I think there’s better ways to serve scallops.

Maureen: Yes. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t brilliant either.

“Braised Scallops, Pancetta & Peas” from “Polpo”

“Pork belly, Radicchio and Hazlenuts” from “Polpo”

Kirstin: I was lucky to have Tom cook this for me on Mother’s Day. I ran out of steam after cooking the cake and focaccia in the morning.

Tom: It was very easy to cook. I loved the crackling!

Kirstin: You always love the crackling! We used fewer hazelnuts than they recommended. And they went incredibly well with the simple salad and dressing.

Tom: I’m going to make this again!

Kirstin: Be my guest! I’ll definitely eat it!


“Pork belly, Radicchio and Hazlenuts” from “Polpo”

“Arancini” from “Polpo”

Maureen: I finally made arancini successfully! Hooray!

Tim: I made arancini once.

Maureen: You did? I don’t remember that.

Nicholas (9): Pictures or it didn’t happen, Dad. You know the rules.

Maureen: What do you think?

Tim: They are super-cool-awesome!


Maureen: Thanks. I am pretty pleased with them. What do you think boys?

Andrew (13): Eh. (Shrugs shoulders, to Maureen’s dismay.)

Nicholas: They’re OK, I guess.

Tim: Did you dip them in egg?

Maureen: I didn’t have to. The risotto was so creamy that you didn’t have to dip it in egg to make the polenta stick. Continue reading ““Arancini” from “Polpo””

“Arancini” from “Polpo”

“Flourless Orange and Almond Cake” from “Polpo”

Kirstin: I love the smell of oranges being boiled for a few hours.

Tom: Me too!

Kirstin: And the syrup really makes this cake super tasty and moist.

Tom: And no flour too.

Kirstin: I previously used a recipe for an orange flourless cake from Nigella. I won’t be using it any more; I think this recipe is much better.


“Flourless Orange and Almond Cake” from “Polpo”