Grilled Italian Meatballs (Polpetti)

Grilled Italian Meatballs (Polpetti)

We have never understood why people—even people who love to cook—are compelled to buy bagged meatballs in the frozen food aisle of their supermarkets. Meatballs (called polpetti in Italian) take only a small investment of time, and can be served as an appetizer or as a main course with pasta and sauce or as a filling for Italian subs. Extras can be bagged and frozen and cooked at your leisure.

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  • 1-1/2 cups crustless cubed white bread
  • 1/4 cup milk or water
  • Olive oil
  • 2 strips raw bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Prepared marinara or other sauce, for serving
  • esh basil leaves, for serving (optional)


In a mixing bowl, combine the bread and milk; let sit for 5 minutes. Wring the milk out of the bread. Discard the milk and return the bread to the bowl.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bacon, onion, and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the bacon has begun to render its fat. Add to the bread mixture and let cool.

Add the ground chuck, ground pork, Parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano. Using a light touch, combine the ingredients with your hands.

Generously oil your hands with olive oil and form the meat mixture into 1-1/2 inch balls.

In the meantime, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 350 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Arrange the meatballs on the grill grate. Grill for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of a meatball is 160 degrees F. Let the meatballs rest for 5 minutes. Skewer them on toothpicks or short bamboo skewers and serve with warmed marinara or other sauce. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.