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Polpette Di Sophia Loren (Meatballs in Cream Sauce)

plate of meatballs in a creamy sauce on top of mashed potatoes and sprinkled with parsley

This meatball—or polpette—recipe is inspired by one that the famous Sophia Loren penned in her own cookbook, hence the name. It’s juicy meatballs doused in a rich cream sauce and served over mashed potatoes. This is it, take comfort food to the limit and give it a dash of Italian flair.


1 cup / 250 ml whole milk
4 thick (½ inch / 1.25 cm) slices stale white bread, crusts removed
1 pound / 450 g ground beef
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
all-purpose flour, for dredging
extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
⅓ cup / 80 ml white wine
¼ cup / 60 ml chicken stock
1 cup / 250 ml heavy cream
a handful of chopped fresh parsley
mashed potatoes, for serving


In a medium bowl, combine the milk and bread. Set aside and let the bread completely absorb the milk.

Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and place the bread in a large bowl. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and mix to combine evenly. Shape into meatballs 1½ to 2 inches / 4 to 5 cm in diameter.

Add flour to a shallow bowl and dredge the meatballs lightly in the flour.

Pour about ¾ inch / 2 cm olive oil into a large heavy sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the meatballs until golden brown all over, about 6 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Pour the excess oil from the skillet and scrape off any residue. Add the wine and cook over medium-high heat until it reduces by one-quarter. Add the chicken stock and cream, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 1 minute. Return the meatballs to the pan, making sure all the meatballs are covered in the sauce. Do not let the sauce boil or the cream will start separating.

Transfer the meatballs to a serving platter or individual plates. Sprinkle with parsley, serve with mashed potatoes, and drizzle lots of sauce on top.

Excerpted from Old World Italian: Recipes and Secrets from our Travels in Italy by Mimi Thorisson. Copyright © 2020 Marie-France Thorisson. Photography Copyright © 2020 Oddur Thorisson. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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