Recipe courtesy of Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow

Pork Meatballs With Spicy Sauce

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 40 min
  • Prep: 1 hr 5 min
  • Cook: 35 min
  • Yield: 24 meatballs
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For the Sauce:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound ground pork shoulder

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand

For the Meatballs:

2 pounds ground pork shoulder

Kosher salt

3 to 4 pickled hot cherry peppers, minced, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons pickling liquid from the jar

4 slices white bread, finely chopped

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Polenta, for serving (optional)


  1. Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and 2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the oil is red, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pork and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes and their juices and 1 cup water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by one-third, about 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Mix the ground pork, 1 tablespoon salt, the cherry peppers and their pickling liquid, the bread and eggs with your hands until combined. Roll into 24 golf ball-size meatballs.
  4. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with the olive oil, then put the meatballs on it and bake until firm and cooked through, about 14 minutes; let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet.
  5. Divide the meatballs among bowls and top with the sauce. Serve with polenta, if desired.