Three Amigo Meatballs

Quite a while back, when I penned this blog, I’d been on a fennel kick, so when I saw this recipe in Redbook Magazine, it caught my eye immediately. Always looking to expand our repertoire of quick, tasty weeknight meals, the “three amigos” of Pork, Veal and Fennel Meatballs seem to fit the bill perfectly.


It calls for a pound each of pork and veal, but since the meat we bought was prepackaged in certain amounts, we ended up with slightly more pork, and slightly less veal, which truth be told, didn’t seem to make a lick of difference! We also found it odd that the recipe calls for grated lemon rind—and rind usually is bitter, so we used lemon zest instead (which I noted below).

Pork, Veal and Fennel Meatballs

  • Servings: 60 mini meatballs
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (we used prepared panko breadcrumbs)
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chile flakes
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 2 Tbsp chopped thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 28-oz can tomato puree

The mixture made 59 small meatballs.

If you are cooking all of the meatballs, you will have to sautée in batches. We froze half of them for a later meal.

While the directions didn’t specify, we let the meatballs sit in the sauce for about 5 minutes to make sure they were heated through.


  1. Place breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and allow to stand 5 minutes.
  2. Place salt, fennel, and chile flakes in a mortar and pestle and grind to combine.
  3. Add salt mixture to breadcrumbs with pork, veal, lemon rind, egg yolk, Parmesan cheese, thyme, garlic, and pepper to taste and mix 2 to 3 minutes or until combined. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large, nonstick frying pan over high heat. Cook meatballs, in batches, 5 to 6 minutes until browned. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  5. Add tomato puree to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes.
  6. While sauce is cooking, cook pasta in a large saucepan of salted, boiling water 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large dish. Add meatballs to sauce and stir gently to combine. Top pasta with meatballs and sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan to serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


The recipe pairs it with spaghetti, but not having any on hand, we opted to use a Black Pepper Fettucini from our pantry, and it made a great companion to the sauce.

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