An easy and quick recipe for pork meatballs in tomato sauce, it can be made with leftover meatballs as well.
This is a very quick dish to get on your table especially when you are using leftovers: leftover meatballs and if you want to be really quick a jar of previously made tomato or marinara sauce. Or a bought tomato sauce jar, of course, you could use that too, although I always say that homemade tastes better. But exceptions can be made.
Chiftelute marinate is another classic in the Romanian kitchen, I think everybody in Romania knows them. My grandmother used to cook them often as well and the dish was always made with leftover meatballs, I honestly believe she never cooked fresh meatballs for this dish.
So, if you do have the meatballs leftover from the previous meal and a jar of tomato sauce, this dish can be put together in 2 minutes. Heat it well, some white bread on the side and you’re done. But, if you do want to make it from scratch, it will not get much more difficult either, this is an easy dish that anyone can make a success of.
My grandmother would always make her meatballs using a recipe very similar to this recipe for Moldavian Pork and Beef Meatballs with Herbs – Parjoale, I think the only major difference between her recipe and my usual meatballs is that she only used pork, never beef. She never ate beef, beef was another one of those major phobias she had when it came to food (like never eating anything white). I’ve barely ever ate beef in Romania because of that, not even in my aunt’s house, she and her daughter Georgi inherited this phobia as well…
But, I have drifted away again… So, when making meatballs my grandmother always made a lot of them, she always said that if the house had to smell of fried meatballs than it should be well worth it (same logic when making crepes, we would eat cold and rather dry crepes for 3 days in a row). As it was only the two of us, those many meatballs would last for days and we would eat the leftovers mostly cold with bread, mustard and tomatoes. I still love to eat them like that today, so I always make more meatballs than we could eat at once as well.
But on the third day or so, she would often make chiftelute marinate – these Quick and Easy Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce. She would make a quick tomato sauce, warm the meatballs in it and always serve the dish with mashed potatoes on the side. A real childhood favorite, suitable for this year’s last Where Is My Spoon series. I hope you enjoy it!
Easy Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce - Romanian RecipePrint This
- For the leftover, very quick version:
- leftover meatballs
- a jar of tomato or marinara sauce
- Or to make the recipe from scratch
- For the tomato sauce:
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pack pureed tomatoes, 500 g/ 17.6 oz
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dry savory or thyme
- 1 bay leave
- 1 pinch of sugar
- salt and pepper
- For the meatballs:
- 1 onion
- 1 thick slice white bread, crusts removed (about 50 g/ 1.7 oz)
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 500 g/ 1.1 lbs ground pork
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon dry savory or thyme
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
- chopped parsley and mashed potatoes to serve
If you are making the quick version of this dish with leftover meatballs and a jar of tomato or marinara sauce, just heat the meatballs in the sauce, sprinkle with parsley and serve with white bread.
For the longer version, start with making the sauce.
Chop the onion and the garlic very finely. Heat the oil in a sauce pan and cook the onion and the garlic until translucent. Add the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, dry herbs, bay leave, a pinch of sugar, some salt and pepper and stir well to combine.
Bring to a boil and cook on a medium-high flame for about 20 minutes, covered but leaving a crack open. Lower the heat and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. If you are using leftover meatballs you can give them to the sauce during the last 10 minutes or so and heat them through. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and another small pinch of sugar, if necessary.
To make the meatballs:
Chop the onion finely. Heat ½ tablespoon oil in the pan you will use for frying the meatballs later and cook the onions until softer and golden. Transfer to the mixing bowl and let cool slightly.
Remove the crust from the bread and soak the bread in some cold water. Squeeze it well and give it to the bowl as well. Add the grated garlic, ground pork, egg, dry and fresh herbs, about ½ teaspoon salt (to taste) and pepper. Mix well with your hand and start forming small meatballs. You should wet your hands from time to time, it works better. Press the meatballs slightly to make them flatter.
Give the flour to a large plate and turn the meatballs into the flour. Pat them carefully to remove the excess flour.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a large pan (cast iron Lodge Cast Iron Skillet with Red Silicone Hot Handle Holder, 12-inch or non-stick T-fal E93808 Professional Total Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Fry Pan, 12.5 Inch, Black for instance) and fry the meatballs, in batches if necessary, adding a bit more of the remaining oil between the batches.
These meatballs are flat and rather small, so they will not need to cook for long. Do that on a medium-low flame and fry them for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are deeply browned on the outside. Check one to make sure that they are cooked through.
Give the meatballs to the hot tomato sauce and stir well to coat the meatballs with the sauce.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potatoes.
This post contains affiliate links. The price you pay as a consumer does not change, but if you make a purchase we will receive a commission which helps support the blog.