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Veal Meatballs with Fried Sage Leaves

Veal polpette, a classic Roman dish, is always on the menu at 'Gusto's Osteria. Instead of bathing them in a heavy tomato sauce, Marco Gallotta douses them with a white-wine pan sauce.

Plus: More Beef Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 2 ounces crustless day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 pound ground veal (see Note)
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 sage leaves
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable stock or low-sodium broth


  1. In a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the veal with the scallions, garlic, salt and pepper. Squeeze the bread dry and add it to the veal. Using your hands, mix the ingredients thoroughly and shape into 30 meatballs. Transfer to a baking sheet.
  3. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the sage leaves, laying them flat, and cook over moderately high heat until crisp, about 2 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  4. Dust the meatballs lightly with flour and shake off the excess. Add the meatballs to the skillet and cook them over moderate heat until browned all over and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
  5. Add the wine to the skillet and simmer over moderately high heat, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet, until almost evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a platter and pour the pan sauce over them. Garnish with the fried sage leaves and serve.

Make Ahead

The uncooked meatballs can be refrigerated overnight.


These meatballs are also delicious when made with ground pork or a mixture of ground pork and veal.

Suggested Pairing

The light, mild veal and the slightly bitter sage are best matched with the dry, savory, spicy flavors of a medium-bodied Sangiovese-based wine.

Contributed By Published May 2005

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