To give these meatballs a flavor boost and make them extra tender, chef Ludo Lefebvre adds finely chopped fat back and prosciutto to the meat mixture.

Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
4 to 6



  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced

  • Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, passed through a food mill

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup torn basil


  • 1/2 pound ground veal  

  • 1/2 pound ground pork

  • 1/4 pound ground beef

  • 1 ounce fat back, finely chopped

  • 1 ounce prosciutto, finely chopped  

  • 4 ounces day old white bread, crust removed and bread finely chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper 

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese

  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

  • 1/4 cup whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil



  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, oregano, sugar, and salt. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 hour. Stir in basil and remove from the heat.


  1. In a large bowl, combine the veal, pork, beef, fat back, prosciutto, bread, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, oregano, parsley, and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the ricotta, parmesan, and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the meat mixture; mix well. Form the mixture into 12 to 14 meatballs (about ¼ cup each).

  2. In a large, deep skillet or braising pan, heat the grapeseed oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Add the sauce to the meatballs. Cover and braise in the oven until the meatballs are very tender and the sauce is reduced, about 2 hours. Serve in bowls, passing more parmesan at the table.

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