Meatballs + Polenta


Sometimes, I think that my friends and customers think we’re over here at my house, eating gourmet meals every night, dishes miraculously washed, ingredients somehow magically arranged neatly in the fridge, . Reality: I never manage to get all the ingredients we’ll need for the week in one or even two shops, we’re always missing something we need, we don’t have a dishwasher, and we both get home around 8 and try to figure out what we’re going to eat.

While I hate that life is so busy and know in my heart that we all need more time in the kitchen to cook for ourselves and our families, the reality is that- at this moment in my life anyway- that time is nonexistent. We can barely get out the door to work over here. From what I hear, that’s how it is at a lot of people’s houses, especially those around which small children wreak havoc.

So anywho, that’s why we make meatballs (and other ready to cook things) over at Bavette. For nights when there is no hope for dinner, and you’re about to order pizza. Again. For maybe the second time in one week.

With these meatballs, you can make so. many. things. This version with polenta is a great place to start because it’s super hands off, and requires no knife skills or chopping if you use your fave store bought tomato sauce. The polenta does take a little time if you use the good stuff- and I think you should- but that time can be spent washing breakfast dishes, tidying up or, let’s be real, pouring a glass of wine and chilling out. The polenta I used is milled here in LA at Grist & Toll and it is just hands-down delish, if you can get it.


Meatballs + Polenta


  • 2 cups polenta (preferably Grist & Toll LA milled)
  • 8 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons butter, to taste
  • ½ cup parmesan, finely grated, + extra for garnishing
  • 1 package Bavette veal meatballs (or 1 lb homemade meatballs)
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce- I like Rao’s
  • 2 tablespoons (or so) basil, cut into thin strips, if you have it


  1. Bring the 8 cups of water to a boil in a large heavy pot. Add the salt.
  2. Grab a whisk and slowly whisk the polenta into the water and then switch over to a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Turn the heat down. From this point on, you’ll need to stir the polenta regularly and, as it thickens, be a bit careful as it spatters and can be quite hot. Cook on low, stirring often, until thickened to a porridge like consistency. This usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes.
  3. While the polenta is cooking, put the meatballs and the sauce into a deep saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook, turning the meatballs gently every once in awhile, until the meatballs are cooked through.
  4. Taste everything for seasoning and adjust as needed. Portion the polenta into bowls and top each bowl with a meatball (or two!) and a scoop of tomato sauce. Top with the basil, and more parm.