meatballs with cheesy polenta

It’s been a big week for Italian food in our household and I ain’t mad about it. When I’m sick, and I’m getting over the cold from hell, I need all the carbs and comfort food. Really good meatballs served over cheesy polenta or grits are high on my list! This is a dish I used to make at the last restaurant I was at, and it was always a hit. Everyone loves comfort food! So what makes good meatballs? Well, fat for one. No lean meatballs for me, thank you very much. I go with a ground pork and a higher fat ground beef (80/20) which keeps the meatballs from drying out while they cook. The other trick is to have some fresh white bread that you’ve pulsed in the food processor so that it’s coarse soaked with MILK. The bread absorbs that liquid and, again, aids in keeping the meatballs from drying out. I made this recipe in my Instagram stories last night and I skipped the bread because I was working with what I had, and you can absolutely tell the difference. I 100% advocate for adding the milk soaked bread to these guys. The trick too is really not to overmix them. I mix them just enough to get all the ingredients dispersed and no more! Overmixing leads to tough meatballs.

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Some of you might be wondering what the difference is between polenta and grits and I’m here to tell ya. Both are ground corn, but polenta is traditionally yellow corn and grits are white corn. Supposedly polenta is coarser than grits, but I haven’t seen super coarse ground grits. I personally love white corn, so I buy the stone ground white corn grits from Trader Joe’s, but if you like yellow corn, Bob’s Red Mill has a really nice coarse ground polenta mix. The important part to creamy grits or polenta is adding enough liquid. We don’t want a polenta that sets into a cake, so the ratio of liquid to corn is important. Also, tons of CHEESE and BUTTER. The ingredients that 100% make every dish better. This dish comes together in just about 30 minutes and it’s truly comfort in a bowl. Happy cooking!

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Meatballs with Cheesy Polenta

Yield: 4-6
prep time: 15 Mcook time: 30 Mtotal time: 45 M


  • 3 slices white bread, pulsed in the food processor until coarse
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground beef (80/20)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dehydrated onion
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Cheesy Polenta
  • 4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup polenta or grits
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 cup shredded yellow cheddar
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. To make the meatballs: place the freshly pulsed bread in a medium mixing bowl. Add the mix and allow the milk to soak into the bread. Add the remaining ingredients (except the oil) and mix until well combined. Roll into balls. Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan and add a single layer of meatballs (you may need to do this in batches) and brown slightly on all sides. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining meatballs. Set meatballs aside. 
  2. To make the sauce: heat olive oil in the pan that the meatballs were browned in. If the pan is very hot, allow it to cool for a few minutes before adding the oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and simmer for 10 minutes. Return the meatballs to the pot, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning. 
  3. To make the cheesy polenta: In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and heavy cream to a simmer. Add the polenta or grits and lower the heat. Cook, stirring often, until the polenta is very thick and none of the corn grains are crunchy. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the meatballs over the cheesy polenta with sauce and extra parmesan. 


Please shred your cheese by hand or in a food processor! Don't buy pre-shredded cheese as it's covered in cellulose. 

Pro tip: throw pieces of parmesan in the food processor and process for a nice, finely grated parmesan.
Created using The Recipes Generator
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