Beef Meatballs and Mortadella in Creamy Tomato Sauce

Beef Meatballs and Mortadella in Creamy Tomato Sauce

Servings: makes 26-30 bite size meatballs


  • 1/4 cup / olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup / tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can / crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup / heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon / kosher salt plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound / ground beef preferably chuck
  • 1/2 pound / mortadella cut into ¼" pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup / fine fresh breadcrumb
  • 1/4 cup / chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons / chopped fresh oregano
  • Grated Grana Padano cheese for serving


  1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Add onion, carrot, and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft and translucent, 10–15 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; season with salt and pepper. Simmer while you form the meatballs.
  2. Using a fork or your hands, mix beef, mortadella, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl until evenly combined. Form mixture into 1½”- diameter balls, packing fairly firmly (you should have about 26) .
  3. Add meatballs to sauce, cover pot, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and very tender, 40–45 minutes.
  4. Serve topped with a generous amount of Grana Padano.
  5. Do Ahead: Meatballs (without cheese) can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat gently in sauce before serving.