RECIPE |Tomato-Braised Meatballs on Polenta with Red Sauce

Food to warm you up from Chef Adam Ross, brought to you by PAM Cooking Spray.

December 21, 2017 ● 2 min read

It’s that time of year again, when all you want to do is sit on top of a heater, drinking endless hot toddies or hot chocolates or apple cider—whatever your thing is—until spring. Dinners in cold weather need to steam up your kitchen and send the smell of garlic creeping out into the hall. This cheesy, classic polenta topped with spicy tomato sauce and an indulgent meatball (or two) is more than up to the task, and the new PAM Spray Pump makes it incredibly easy to pull off.

Tomato sauce

1 ½ cups olive oil
16 garlic cloves, chopped
Two 28-oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, strained of their juice and hand squeezed
1 Tbs. fennel seeds
1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
2 Tbs. butter
Kosher salt  

In a medium saucepot, add garlic and oil and begin heating slowly. After garlic softens and begins to lightly brown, add tomatoes and spices. Cook until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. Add butter and remove from heat.  


1 lb. ground beef
½ lb. ground veal
½ lb. ground pork
 2 eggs
1 large white onion, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 ½ Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
1 cup bread crumbs, plus more as needed
1 Tbs. red chili flakes
New PAM Olive Oil Spray Pump  

Add 3 pumps PAM Olive Oil Spray Pump to a sauté pan, and heat to medium-high heat. Add onions, cooking until translucent. Add garlic, shallot, oregano, chili flake, salt and black pepper, and caramelize further. Once caramelized, remove from heat and let cool.  

Add meat, eggs, and breadcrumbs to caramelized onions, and mix just until combined. Let the mixture rest for 45 minutes.  

Return pan to heat, and test a small amount of the meat mixture. Cook until it’s cooked through, and taste for seasoning. Add salt or pepper as needed. Once seasoning is adjusted, prepare a workstation with meatballs on your left side and a prepared tray for the meatballs on your right, and the PAM Spray Pump somewhere handy.

Using one pump of olive oil on your hands, grab around 4 ½ oz. of the meat mixture (or larger if you’d like). Begin by cupping your hands and rolling them together to form a ball in your palms. Once you’ve rolled a meatball, place it on to the prepared tray on your right.

Bring tomato sauce to a simmer. Place meatballs in the sauce, and cover. Depending on the size of the meatballs, it should be done in 45 minutes.  

Creamy Polenta

2 cups polenta
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup mascarpone or cream cheese
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
1 Tbs. Kosher salt  

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot, bring chicken stock and salt to boil. Whisk in polenta, and continuously stir until mixture thickens. Once polenta is cooked through, add both cheeses, sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.   Keep warm until serving.  

To assemble


Cut one ball of burrata into six equal pieces. Carefully spoon polenta onto a plate. Top with one meatball and a good scoop of the tomato sauce in the center, topped with finely grated Parmesan. Place burrata around meatball, and garnish with basil.