Gabriele Bertaccini - Polpette Alla Griglia - Grilled Meatballs With Creamy Ricotta & Braised Winter Greens

Gabriele Bertaccini - Polpette Alla Griglia - Grilled Meatballs With Creamy Ricotta & Braised Winter Greens
Gabriele Bertaccini shares his Grandmother’s Polpette Alla Griglia recipe.
Polpette Alla Griglia


  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fennel sofrito**
  • 1 can pureed san Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 salt packed anchovy fillets rinsed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt


  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/4 pounds of ground beef chuck (80/20 is a really good option)
  • 5 ounces of ground pork fat
  • 1/2 cup creamy ricotta - whole milk ricotta if store bought
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of anchovy paste
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons Fresno chile powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons toasted caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce


  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 pounds leafy cooking greens such as beet greens, swiss chard, or spinach, tough stems removed roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed and finely chopped preserved lemon
  • 1 1/2 whole milk ricotta cheese - for serving
  • Maldon salt, fennel pollen, dried oregano, EVOO for garnish


  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  • Onions
  • Olive oil



  • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain the breadcrumbs, squeezing to remove excess milk, then
  • Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork fat, bread-crumb puree, ricotta, Parmigiana Reggiano, parsley, garlic, anchovy paste, chile powder, caraway seeds, ground fennel seeds, salt and fish sauce. Mix thoroughly by hand, kneading until you have a smooth, even mixture. Roll the picture in your hands to 18 well packed 2-ounce balls, roughly the size of golf balls, arranging them on a baking sheet as you work. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Tomato Sauce:

  • In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the wine to a boil and cook until reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 120 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown around the edges, m about 1 minute. Add the sofrito and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Add the reduced wine, the tomatoes, anchovies, salt and 2 cups of water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer then remove the sauce from heat and set aside.
  • Take the meatballs out of the fridge and bring to room temperature while you build a medium fire charcoal grill or preheat gas grill. Brush the grill grate with olive oil. Arrange the meatballs on the grate over medium heat. Sear on one side until well grill-marked, about 5 minutes, being careful not to move them too much, turn and sear for another 5 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the heat and over to keep warm.

Braised Greens:

  • Just before you are ready to serve, make the braised greens.
  • In a sauté́ pan over high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add the greens to the pan in batches and sauté until wilted. Add the preserved lemon and 1/2 cup water and toss quickly until the water evaporates. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Place 3meatballs in the center of each serving bowl. Ladle about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce over the meatballs. Top each serving with about 1/2 cup of the braised greens and 1/4 cup of the ricotta. Garnish with a pinch of Maldon salt, a pinch of fennel pollen, a pinch of dried oregano and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Fennel Sofrito:

  • In a pan, let it reduce and lightly brown.

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