Truscello di Messina

Meatball and Ricotta Bake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

Truscello is a delicious, very light dish made up of tiny balls of clove-scented ricotta and beef, layered in a dish, bathed in stock and poached in the oven. The preparation is a bit fiddly but well worth the effort. It comes from Messina, which is the third-largest city on the island of Sicily.


  • 275 g/10 oz/1 ¼ cups very lean minced/ground beef
  • 115 g/4 oz/1 ⅓ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra if needed
  • 115 g/4 oz/2 cups stale white breadcrumbs, plus extra if needed
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 eggs
  • 500 ml/17 fl oz/generous 2 cups strongly-flavoured beef stock
  • 275 g/10 oz drained fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1.5 ml/¼ tsp ground cloves
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. Put the beef in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper, then add 30 ml/2 tbsp of the Parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs and parsley. Beat 2 of the eggs lightly and add them to the bowl.

  2. Using wet, clean hands, mix the ingredients together. Add a little stock if necessary, to bind the mixture, but not too much as it should be firm, not sloppy.

  3. Pinch off small pieces of the mixture and roll into tiny meatballs, no larger than big olives.

  4. Pour the stock into a large pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and then add the meatballs. Simmer for no more than 3 minutes.
  5. Lift the meatballs out with a slotted spoon and put them on a dish. Set aside to cool. Leave the stock over a low heat. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
  6. Put the ricotta in a bowl and add the remaining Parmesan cheese. Beat the remaining eggs lightly and add them to the bowl with the ground cloves. Season.
  7. Shape the ricotta mixture into balls the same size as the meatballs. The ricotta needs to be really dry and stiff - if the mixture is too sloppy, add more breadcrumbs and Parmesan until you can shape it into balls with ease.
  8. Pour a little of the hot stock into a 1.5-litre/2½-pint/6-cup baking dish. Cover with a layer of ricotta balls, then with a layer of meatballs.
  9. Pour over stock to just cover, then layer the ricotta balls and meatballs on top. Continue in this way until the final layer of meatballs has been added. Pour over the remaining stock.
  10. Bake for 5-10 minutes, so that the meat and cheese balls heat through but the ricotta does not melt. Serve immediately.