Main courses, Sephardi

Recipe: Balles of Italie

Balles of Italie

If you’ve got all the kids home with you, say during the corona global pandemic, you want food to please even the pickiest eater, preferably something cooked in one pot. This gem of a recipe has its origins in the ancient Sephardic Jewish community of Italy. Even though the allspice sounds exotic, the dish absolutely tastes homey and “normal.” I have yet to see a child turn up his/her nose at eating this dish, and it gets better as you reheat it, too. It doubles and even triples well. So make a lot! This meatball and potato dish will keep everyone happy for days.

Balles of Italie

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1.5 lbs. ground meat
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 dashes soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon melted margarine
  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 6 potatoes
  • Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice


  1. Combine 1.5 lbs. ground meat, 2 tablespoons cold water, dashed over the beef and mixed into it and 1 large onion, grated.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons ketchup, 3 dashes soy sauce, 1 tablespoon melted margarine, ¼ teaspoon celery salt, salt and pepper to taste, and 1 beaten egg. Blend well and add 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs or enough to hold the mixture together.
  3. Grease the bottom of a Dutch oven. Shape the meat mixture into balls slightly larger than a walnut. Alternate the meatballs with chunky pieces of raw potato. Sprinkle paprika generously over all.
  4. Toss in 1 tablespoon of whole allspice. Add 3/4 cup water, cover tightly, bring to boil, then simmer for an hour to an hour and a half or until potatoes are tender with pierced with a knife. Do not stir.


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