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Gino D'Acampo shows you where you've been going wrong with your meatballs by sharing this family recipe...

The secret of my mother’s meatballs is very simple: always use two types of mincemeat for texture and flavour (in this case pork and beef) and keep the tomato sauce simple, so you can appreciate the flavour of the meatballs. She also used to bake the meatballs before simmering them in the tomato sauce rather than frying them, as is often the case. Always use fresh breadcrumbs rather than dried or toasted, or the meatballs will be tough and chewy. Serve with plenty of warm crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Serves 4


  • Olive oil for greasing
  • 400g minced pork
  • 400g minced beef
  • 150g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 100g freshly grated Grana Padano cheese
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 690ml jar of passata (sieved tomatoes)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, plus extra to garnish


Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Grease a large baking sheet with oil and set aside. Place the pork, beef, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, Grana Padano and eggs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until everything is thoroughly combined.

Using dampened hands, take small amounts of the meat mixture and roll into 12 equal-sized balls. Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the tomatoes, passata and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the chilli flakes, basil and some salt. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Carefully place the meatballs in the tomato sauce and partially cover the pan again. Simmer for 30 minutes, turning the meatballs occasionally. If the sauce gets too thick, add a little hot water. To serve, scatter over a few basil leaves.


:: Recipe extracted from Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape by Gino D’Acampo, published by Hodder & Stoughton out now.