Staff Lunch - Nonna Carla's Polpette al Sugo

Messina HQ is based in Rosebery - it's where we make everything you'll eat in our gelato comes from - we house our production kitchen, head office and warehouse here (plus there's a store!). Every day there's about 30-40 people around going about their day to day. But everything stops at 12pm for lunch.

Ever since we moved Messina HQ to Rosebery in 2014, it's become a bit of a tradition to that all teams sit down and enjoy lunch together. And, by far the best days of the week to be around are when Nonna Carla is cooking. Carla Palumbo is the mother of two of Messina's owners - brothers Nick and Danny Palumbo. Carla and her husband emigrated to Adelaide from their hometown of Messina in Sicily 1968 (note, not you know where the name Gelato Messina comes from).

Broadsheet popped by one sunny Friday afternoon to meet Carla and taste one of her her famous dishes - Polpette al sugo. You can read their full article here.

(image credit Kitti Gould for Broadsheet)

Polpette al sugo
Recipe by Carla Palumbo of Gelato Messina

Serves 6
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours


½ cup full-cream milk
3 slices white bread
500g minced pork and veal
50g dry breadcrumbs
2 eggs
150g grated parmesan
1 sprig chopped parsley
1 tsp fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for shallow frying (regular, not extra virgin, works best)

1 small brown or white onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup red wine
750ml passata
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
1 sprig basil, chopped

500g dried rigatoni or other pasta
Grated parmesan to serve

In a large bowl, soak the bread in the milk. Add the mince, eggs, parmesan, parsley, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly by hand, roll into 3cm balls and leave to rest while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, place a large pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onion and fry until soft. Add the tomato paste and red wine. Simmer until the alcohol evaporates. Add the passata and simmer gently on a low heat for 1–1.5 hours. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Add the basil and remove from the heat.

Just before the sauce is ready, shallow-fry the meatballs in batches until brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water. Combine the cooked pasta and sauce. Top with the meatballs and parmesan and serve.

This story originally appeared in Sydney print issue 28, titled "Staff Meal with Gelato Messina".

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