Baduzzi's Michael Dearth shares some of his favourite meatball recipes

Mad About Meatballs; We sat down with Auckland restauranteur Michael Dearth of Italian-inspired Baduzzi and fine-dining The Grove to discuss an expertly crafted meatball menu championing Kiwi Bacon.

Michael Dearth’s initial concept for Baduzzi was a ‘hole in the wall’ eatery, destined to serve Auckland the best meatballs they’ve ever tasted. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit what is now Wynyard Quarter’s Baduzzi, you’ll know the restaurant itself is a far cry from Dearth’s pipedream, “we looked and looked for the right venue, but it never presented itself”, says Dearth, “then we found this space, and the site dictated what the dream became.” Despite the concept change, Baduzzi still serves the best meatballs in town. 


To prove it, Dearth and Baduzzi head chef Juan Balsani have created three bespoke meatball recipes for Remix readers, proving that one of Italy’s oldest creations leaves plenty of room for flavoursome flare.



500g Flour

160g Salted yolks

20g Beetroot freeze dried powder

10g Salt

2 Whole eggs 

  •     Combine all ingredients until smooth
  •     Rest in fridge for 6 hours
  •     Roll pasta dough onto desired thickness (1.5mm) and cut pappardelle shape (3cm wide)


 900g Crayfish meat

520g Kiwi Bacon Streaky Bacon

130g Confit shallots

100g Crème fraiche

100g Cabbage

30g Chives

20g Carrots

20g Parsley

20g Basil

15g Salt

Lemon Zest


Lime Zest and Juice

  •     Dice and combine all the ingredients - make sure they are very cold before mincing
  •     Mince them on meat grinder and refrigerate mix overnight
  •     Weigh out 10g mix and shape meatballs
  •     Bake meatballs for 4 minutes at 190C



Finely diced shallots

Sliced garlic

Chopped red chillies

Chopped chives

Chopped parsley

Shizo vinegar

White wine


Olive oil

Lemon juice


Bacon lardons

Quail eggs

Grated parmesan cheese 

  •     On a hot pan add a drizzle of olive oil and fry shallots, garlic and chillies until slightly coloured
  •     Deglaze the pan with white wine and Shizo vinegar. Reduce until almost dry
  •     Start blanching fresh pasta (around 3 minutes in boiling water)
  •     Add bacon lardons, precooked meatballs and cooked beetroot pasta while still hot
  •     Toss on the pan and adjust seasoning, lemon juice and emulsify a spoonful of room temperature butter
  •     Finish with a generous spoonful of chopped herbs
  •     Place pasta in a bowl, serve with a quail egg yolk in the middle and top with grated parmesan cheese




150g Kiwi Bacon Streaky Bacon

300g pork shoulder

200g pork cheek

30g grated pecorino

50g white bread crumb fine/soaked in 50ml of milk for five minutes

15g Italian parsley chopped

10g oregano leaves chopped

1 egg

15g toasted fennel seeds

10g salt flaky


Dice and combine all the ingredients, make sure they are very cold before mincing. Mince them on meat grinder and refrigerate mix overnight.

Weigh on 10gr mix and shape meatballs.

Bake meatballs for 6 minutes at 190C.


5kg beef bones

5kg pork bones

300 g carrot

300g  onion

3 stick celery

15g thyme

15g rosemary

8 clove garlic

20g peppercorn

200 cab sav vinegar

750 port wine

Water to cover


  •     Place all the ingredients in a stock pot and let them simmer at very low temperature for 6 hours
  •     Strain stock and reduce by half in a shallow pot



Blanched orecchiette pasta

Baby kale leaves

Baby cavalo nero leaves

Baby beetroot leaves

Diced celery

Diced carrot

Diced fennel bulb

Olive oil


  •     In a pan slightly sauté the diced vegetables without colour until fragrant and tender
  •     Add reduced beef stock, cooked meatballs and blanched past
  •     Boil for 3 minutes on low, add leaves and serve immediately





4kg Pork shoulder

4kg Beef chuck

1kg Lardo

1kg Pepper pancetta

2.3kg Bread soft crumb mixed threw with fat

500g Italian parsley

300g Mustard whole grain

140g Salt


  •     Dice and combine all the ingredients - make sure they are very cold before mincing.
  •     Mince on meat grinder and refrigerate mix overnight
  •     Weigh on 60g mix and shape meatballs
  •     Bake meatballs for 10 minutes at 190C



150g Diced shallots

100g Diced carrots

80gr Diced fennel

50g Sherry vinegar 

150g Port wine

400g Marinara tomato sauce

200g Reduced beef sauce


  •     On a pan add a drizzle of olive oil
  •     Sweat out vegetables until lightly coloured
  •     Deglaze with port and sherry vinegar and reduce until almost dry
  •     Add reduced beef sauce and marinara tomato sauce
  •     Place cooked meatballs in a deep oven tray
  •     Cover meatballs with sauce and braise them in the oven at 150C for 30-45min



1tsp Cumin powder

100g Basil

100g  Chives or spring onion

100ml Extra virgin olive oil

100g pine nuts (toasted)

4 Eggplants

4 Vine ripened tomatoes

4 Shallots

1 Clove of garlic


  •     Roast the eggplants until black and most of the moisture is gone. Ideally on the barbecue or over a wood fire grill
  •     Let them chill and scoop out all the flesh into a bowl
  •     Blanch tomatoes in salted water for 8 seconds to remove the skin. Quarter them and remove seeds. Dice into small pieces and add to eggplant flesh
  •     Fine dice shallots and garlic, gently sauté them in olive oil with the cumin. Add to eggplant mixture together with oil from the pan.
  •     Add chopped basil, chives, pine nuts and season
  •     Mix well and leave at room temp





Chopped parsley

Olive oil

Fresh grated parmesan


  •     Place meatballs on the plate and cover them with the braising sauce
  •     Add a spoonful of smoked melanzane and fresh ricotta cheese
  •     Grate parmesan and top with chopped parsley


Five minutes with Michael Dearth: 


In what ways does bacon elevates Italian cuisine? 

Bacon elevates any cuisine. People always think for meatballs we gravitate toward high-end cuts like eye-fillet, but that’s not the case. You want secondary cuts, you want fat because as you braise them, the fat will keep them juicy, and the best kind of fat is pork fat. 

What is your earliest meatball memory? 

Meatballs are in many ways, the dish of my childhood. I grew up in Connecticut, my dad was Irish and my mum was Italian, I always remember having a pot of hearty tomato sauce with meatballs on the stove. So the kids would be coming and going from various sporting events you know, but there was always meatballs in a reduced flavourful tomato sauce in the kitchen. That was just home for me. This is one of my mum's recipes which are nearly impossible to replicate, although sometimes the chefs here manage to nail that unquantifiable mum ingredient in our meatballs.

How does Baduzzi stay relevant amongst a myriad of new openings? 

I believe if you have good food and good people, people will continue to come. Baduzzi is tried and trued, people come to Wynyard Quarter as a destination and they know we will deliver, we’re consistent. Baduzzi champions local ingredients like Kiwi Bacon, I love New Zealand, and I love our bounty and I want the food to be a celebration of that.