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2018 Holiday Recipe Contest Winner: $500 Best Savory

Patrick Spagon | Central Texas EC

Gremolata is a traditional Italian condiment that’s often used to enhance rich meat dishes like these luscious bacon and beef meatballs. Spagon suggests serving the warm meatballs over polenta or with pasta or steamed rice.


1 slice whole wheat bread
1/3 cup milk
1 pound ground beef
2 ounces (about 3 slices) smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
Finely ground pepper (5 twists of mill)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup breadcrumbs


2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup dry white wine
1 can (14.5 ounces) chopped Italian tomatoes, undrained


1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup minced parsley
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced

1. Meatballs: Combine the bread and milk in a large bowl. When bread is soft, mash it with a fork (or your fingers), then add the beef, bacon, egg, salt, pepper, parsley, Parmesan and shallots to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Make meatballs 1 1/2–2 inches in diameter.

2. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the meatballs in the breadcrumbs, then brown them on all sides. Remove meatballs from skillet and set aside.

3. Sauce: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add the butter to the drippings in the skillet. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, until softened. Add the wine and simmer 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with liquid) and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

4. Transfer the sauce and meatballs to a 3-quart casserole dish, cover and bake 1 hour. Allow the meatballs to cool briefly while you prepare the gremolata.

5. Gremolata: Combine the lemon zest, parsley and garlic in a small bowl. Serve the warm meatballs with a sprinkling of gremolata over each portion.

Serves 6–8.

Correction: November 6, 2018
The recipe instructions for Osso Buco-Style Meatballs included an erroneous measurement for a pan. The recipe calls for a 12-inch, high-sided skillet.