Spicy Meatball recipe & tempranillo pairing

Spicy Meatballs & Tempranillo

Spicy Meatballs with Truffle Parmesan Polenta.
Bottle of Nepenthe Tempranillo next to the ingredients used to make spicy meatballs.

Serves: 4 people

Total cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes



Spicy Meatballs

  • 500grams beef mincemeat (pork will work too)
  • 2 handfuls of finely chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme, rosemary, chives, and oregano)
  • 1 Brown Onion finely chopped
  • 12 cups Breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 cups grated parmesan
  • 12 tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1tsp Smoked paprika
  • 4 Garlic cloves grated



  • 5 Swiss brown mushrooms sliced
  • 3 Anchovy fillets
  • 12 cups Red wine
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Tinned plum tomatoes 400ml
  • 1tbs Tomato paste
  • (Optional wedge of parmesan rind)


Truffle Parmesan Polenta

  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 12 freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tsp truffle oil



To make the meatballs:

  1. Firstly sauté the chopped onion and garlic until translucent, then leave to cool while you make the meatball mix.
  2. Put the mincemeat, fresh herbs, breadcrumbs, chilli flakes, grated parmesan, 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, and the cooled diced onions into a bowl and mix well.
  3. Then put into the fridge to cool for 20mins. Once the mince mix has cooled, take out 2 tablespoons of the mixture and create even meatballs (should make around 22 large ones). When complete, place them into a baking tray, ready for cooking in the sauce.

To make the tomato sauce:

  1. Brown off the mushrooms in a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil and the anchovy fillets. Once browned, add in the red wine and bay leaves, once the red wine has reduced down add in the plum tomatoes and tomatoes paste and stir well.
  2. ​If you have some parmesan rind, put a couple of thumbs into the pan, to add an extra level of cheesy depth to the sauce. Cook on medium heat for 45mins, to deepen sauce flavour, once ready to pour over the meatballs in the tray, and then grate parmesan over the top of the dish and bake for 35mins on 180c to cook the meatballs through. Finish with freshly chopped chives and black pepper.

    To make the truffle polenta:

    1. Cook the polenta whilst the meatballs cook for 35mins; bring stock and salt to a boil in a large saucepan; pour polenta slowly into boiling water, whisking constantly until all polenta is stirred in and there are no lumps.

    2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking often until polenta starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Cook for 30 minutes, whisking every 5 to 6 minutes. When the polenta is too thick to whisk, move on using a wooden spoon. Polenta is done when the texture is creamy and the individual grains are tender.
    3. Turn off heat and gently stir 3 tablespoons butter into polenta until butter partially melts and also add in the truffle oil; mix in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese until its melted. Cover and let stand 5 minutes to thicken; stir and taste for salt before transferring to your serving plates.
    4. Serve the meatballs with creamy truffle polenta, or they’ll go beautifully with pasta or a rich and buttery mustard mash potato as well.​

Why it works;

Spanish grapes and tapas; the two go hand in hand. Meatballs are a staple in tapas, so this lightly spiced and smoky meatball dish aches for a luscious red wine to match it. The subtle chilli and paprika flavours in the meatballs are perfectly balanced with this medium-bodied wine with vibrant fruit characters and subtle leather notes.

The subtle musky flavours from the truffle polenta also enhance the savoury earthiness of the wine, creating a delicious taste experience.

This rustic pairing makes for a perfect Spanish-themed dinner, served best with a glass of our Nepenthe Altitude Tempranillo. So, as they would say in Spain, disfrutar!