These big pork meatballs are wrapped in prosciutto, browned and simmered in tomato sauce, then served on top of polenta.
When it comes to classic comfort food, it’s hard to beat meatballs and polenta! These Pork Prosciutto Meatballs and Polenta are faithful to the classic, with the addition of wrapping the large meatballs in prosciutto, for an extra layer of flavour.
Beyond the prosciutto, this is a dish that rewards starting with great ingredients and the patience to allow the meatballs to brown well and then simmer long enough to marry all the flavours.
Add a glass of your favourite red wine and you are all set for a special meal.
This is one of those recipes that will benefit greatly from great ingredients. Fresh herbs are great here, if you can. Fresh basil especially, works well in the meatballs, sauce and for garnish. If you don’t have fresh, use a bit less of dried herbs. A great can of tomatoes to start (San Marzano maybe) and a good sized chunk of a nice Parmesan will all take this dish up a notch.
Speaking of Parmesan, note that there is Parmesan in the meatballs, the polenta and for garnish. You’ll want a good piece around to start.
Do note that the Polenta referred to in the recipe is the dried grain Polenta. Use long-cooking and not “instant” or “quick cooking”. You don’t want to use the Polenta in that tube, as it is cooked already and won’t work with these instructions. (Though if that’s all you have, you could slice, fry and serve the meatballs on top instead.)
Be sure to taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Obviously, you can’t taste the raw pork mixture, but you’ll want to add salt and pepper. While the prosciutto adds a bit of saltiness to the meatball as it cooks, it’s a big meatball so additional salting is probably in order.
These are really big meatballs! An instant read thermometer is handy to ensure they are cooked through. You’ll want them to be 160F in the middle, at least. If you don’t have a thermometer, err on the side of simmering longer, rather than rushing them. A longer simmer won’t hurt them and you can be sure they are cooked.
Make ahead: You can make the sauce and meatballs and simmer them off ahead. Refrigerate the meatballs in the sauce, then simply re-heat while you make the polenta, to serve.
Time tight or energy short? Skip a step by starting with a good, store-bought marinara sauce instead of making your own. Just be sure to buy enough – 30 oz. or 885ml – ish – so that your meatballs have enough sauce to simmer in.
I put two meatballs per bowl for photographic purposes. One big meatball in the bowl just looked kind of goofy through the viewfinder :) Trust me though that one meatball with the polenta per person is sufficient for most appetites.
This delicious recipe is adapted from a Gourmet Traveler recipe.
Get the Recipe: Pork Prosciutto Meatballs with Polenta
- 28 oz canned tomatoes
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 - 2 Tbsp mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped, such as thyme, oregano and basil, plus extra to serve
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup long-cooking, dried polenta, not instant or tubed
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated plus extra to serve
- 3 Tbsp butter, diced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 cup Parmesan, grated
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, or about 1/3 cup dried
- 1/2 small onion, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 Tbsp mixed fresh herbs, such as thyme, basil and oregano
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 prosciutto slices
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, for cooking/browning meatballs
- Make the Marinara Sauce: Blend together the canned tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs in a blender until smooth, or alternately in a large bowl with an immersion blender. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan. Add wine and olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer while you make the meatballs.
- For meatballs: Add all the meatball ingredients except the prosciutto and olive oil to a large bowl. Stir together until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into quarters. Take one quarter and roll into a ball, then wrap with a slice of prosciutto. Repeat with the other quarters. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and brown well all over (3-5 minutes). Transfer the meatballs to the simmering sauce. Half cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer until meatballs are just cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. *If you have an instant-read thermometer, test the meatballs for done-ness by inserting in centre and ensuring that it is at least 160F.
- When meatballs are almost cooked, bring milk and water to the boil in a large saucepan. Gradually pour in polenta, whisking continuously, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking regularly, until smooth and thickened. (about 20 minutes for long-cooking polenta or 5 minutes for instant polenta) Remove from heat. Add parmesan and butter and season generously with salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine. Serve polenta topped with meatballs and sauce, garnished with extra parmesan and fresh chopped herbs.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!
Really enjoyed this recipe. Only had dried herbs but still worked brilliantly. I made a slight modification and put mozzarella inside the meatball and then wrapped it in prosciutto. This made 8 meatballs instead of 4 and went down a real treat!!!
Sounds delicious, Jon! So glad you enjoyed it :)
This was a really clever idea to wrap the meatballs with prosciutto . I had to make some adjustments (no long cooking polenta at my store so I used instant ) and I only had dried herbs . Still delicious.
I did not want to drag out or clean a blender or food processor. I started minced onion in olive oil till a bit soft. I added San Marzano tomatoes by crushing in my hands . The sauce was smooth by the time I finished cooking the meatballs.Thanks for a great recipe !
So glad you enjoyed it, Kim and love your sauce adaptation. I’m all for less dishes to clean :) Thanks!
Hi Jennifer – in the midst of making this. Challenged by the polenta – I bought what was available at our local grocery store – ‘traditional polenta’ in a tube. When I opened the package it is a firm/rubbery consistency. When the recipe states ‘pour the polenta’ – there is no pouring going on … it is chopped chunks. It sounds like more of a couscous consistency is what I need. The polenta is melting a bit but the ratio of liquid to polenta does not look right. I am waiting the whole 20 minutes to see what happens but not feeling hopeful. It is liquid with lumps. Darn. I have water boiling as back up for pasta. Meatballs look great, I made 12, cut the prosciutto in half length wise. Looking forward to your response. I read cooks notes a couple of times but no mention of polenta varieties.
Hi Sara and I am sorry I didn’t give more information on the Polenta (I will fix that!) Polenta is a dried corn grain, similar to cornmeal, except more coarse. It can be found in with the rice generally in most grocery stores. The grainy polenta is cooked in water and/or milk until is expands and softens into a porridge-like mixture. What you bought was prepared polenta, so it’s already cooked and then formed into a tube. The tubes are generally used for slicing and frying in oil. Or cutting into cubes and adding to dishes. Again, I’m sorry about the confusion.
You had me at polenta ?
I moved out of my comfort zone and made this meatball recipe for my Sicilian mother (who has passed down her meatballs & sauce recipe going back to my great grandmother). It passed the test and will go into my winter rotation. Even my ultra picky eater ate a meatball and a spoonful of polenta.
Your recipes are fabulous!
So glad to hear, Jenn (and yes, I’m a polenta lover, too :) Thanks so much!
Another delicious recipe! Used the San Marzano tomatoes and fresh herbs ( doubled the herbs in the sauce) 1/2 meatball was perfect for me and my husband was more than happy to “help” with the other half.
This one is company worthy:)
So glad you enjoyed this! I could only eat half a meatballs, too, but they were great as left-overs the next day :) Thanks!
Classic comfort food is just what I’m craving today – this recipe looks perfect! :)
Thanks Laura :)
What a delicious combination Jennifer! This is the perfect kind of winter comfort food. And just what we need right now with snow headed our way!
Thanks Mary Ann :) And yes, great snowed in food!
Polenta is one of my favourite things and then paired with these comforting meatballs? Love the prosciutto in there. Yes please! All I need with this is a big glass of vino to go with and I’m one happy lady :)
Thanks so much, Dawn :)
I love a dish that showcases and blends together quality ingredients and these proscuitto wrapped meatballs and polenta are just perfect. Definitely a recipe to keep handy!
Thanks Milena and yes, this is a dish where great ingredients are the star, for sure!
I made short ribs with polenta recently and I thought that was pretty comforting, but your meatballs have got that beat! I love me a good meatball and now I need to try it with polenta! Pinned!
Thanks Annie and these are great meatballs! The prosciutto adds such a nice crispy/salty thing to them, too :)
I’ve never tried meatballs with polenta – but I bet it is wonderful. Your marinara sauce sounds terrific – PINNING!
Pork and prosciutto, what a delicious combination I never would have thought of! And the polenta is a wonderful pairing! I’m such a sucker for anyting Italian, but then again, who isn’t?
Thanks so much, Chris :)