Main Dish

Classic Meatballs and Red Sauce

Sbragia Family Vineyards

9990 Dry Creek Road
Geyserville, CA 95441

  • RECIPE YEAR: 2016
  • RECIPE BY: Alec Graham
  • YIELD: Serves 6
  • PAIRS WELL WITH: Home Ranch Merlot

Whether smothered in provolone on a crusty Italian roll, or served atop a big plate of spaghetti, meatballs are a comfort classic that are sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face. Infusing the meatballs with pancetta and garlic is a quick trick that adds beautiful depth of flavor to traditional meatballs, and fresh herbs lend a bright fragrance that will make any mouth water.


  • 1/4 pound pancetta, finely chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 cups cubed ciabatta or focaccia
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3/4 pound ground lean beef
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil for cooking
To prepare the meatballs, in a small fry pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crispy. Add the garlic and remove from the heat. Let stand until cool to the touch.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, cream and wine and toss to coat the bread with the liquid. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

In another large bowl, combine the ground beef and pork. Remove the bread from the liquid, squeezing out the extra liquid, and add the bread to the meat mixture. Add the pancetta-garlic mixture, the onion, carrot, parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, eggs and cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Combine the ingredients until the desired consistency is reached. 

Form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-ounce balls (about 3 tablespoons each). Refrigerate until ready to cook. 

In a large saucepan, warm olive oil. Working in batches, add the meatballs and sear until browned on all sides. To finish, either place the meatballs in the simmering tomato sauce (recipe below) and cook for 1 hour, or bake the meatballs in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes and then serve them with the sauce.  

Red Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, minced
  • 2 large carrots, minced
  • 20 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 4 cans (each 14.5 ounces) crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a large pot over low heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft. Increase the heat to high and cook until the vegetables are browned.

Add the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits, then add the tomatoes, basil, oregano and thyme. Cook on the lowest heat possible for 4 hours. Season with salt and pepper. 

Sbragia Family Vineyards

9990 Dry Creek Road
Geyserville, CA 95441