MALTESE PULPETTI Corned Beef Meatballs by Chef Charles Knight

MALTESE PULPETTI Corned Beef Meatballs by Chef Charles Knight

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Malta is a small island nation located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. Its strategic location has been significant throughout history, with various civilizations and empires fighting for control over the island. The earliest known inhabitants of Malta were the Phoenicians, who settled on the island around 1000 BC. The Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Normans followed them, each leaving their mark on the island's culture, architecture, and culinary history.

In 1530, the Knights of St. John were granted rule over Malta by Emperor Charles V of Spain, and they established Valletta as the capital city. The Knights fortified the island and built numerous palaces, churches, and gardens, leaving behind a rich architectural heritage that still stands today.

Malta remained under the rule of the Knights until 1798 when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded the island and established French rule. However, the Maltese rebelled against the French and, with the help of the British, regained control of the island in 1800. Malta remained under British rule for over 160 years, until it gained independence in 1964.

Today, Malta is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, historic sites, and vibrant culture. Its location in the heart of the Mediterranean has made it a crossroads of civilizations, with a rich history and diverse cultural influences that continue to shape the island's identity.

In the spring of 1967, I had the opportunity to spend an evening in Valletta, Malta while on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the USS America CVA66. This experience left a lasting impression, and fond memories of the beautiful architecture, delicious food, and friendly locals. Chef Charles Knight


Maltese Pulpetti, is a delicious and easy-to-make dish that will transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean. It is a traditional Maltese dish that consists of small meatballs, usually made with beef or pork, and a rich tomato-based sauce.

This dish has a fascinating history that dates back to the Arab rule in Malta when the Arabs introduced their culinary traditions to the island. The Maltese Pulpetti recipe evolved, and today, it is a beloved dish that is served in many Maltese households and restaurants.

To make the perfect Maltese Pulpetti, you will need ground meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, parsley, and some spices. Mix all the ingredients, shape the meatballs, and fry them until they are golden brown. Then, prepare the tomato sauce with onions, garlic, tomato paste, and some herbs. Let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for a few minutes until they are cooked through and tender.

Serve the Maltese Pulpetti with some crusty bread or pasta and enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean in every bite. Try this recipe today and discover why the Maltese Pulpetti is a beloved dish in Malta and beyond.

If you are looking for an easier method Pulpetti can be made with 2 cans of corned beef hash, diced onion and garlic, breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, and grated Parmesan cheese. Or, if you have a bit more time, try our longer recipe for an even more flavorful dish. Either way, our Pulpetti recipe is the perfect addition to your dinner repertoire.

Longer method PREPARATION: 2 hours- makes 24 ice cream scoop-size meatballs.

EQUIPMENT: Stainless steel mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, 18x13 stainless baking pan.


  • 2 russet potatoes baked, peeled, and mashed about 1½ cups.
  • 1 medium onion finely diced.
  • 1 cup seasoned croutons or ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 bulb of roasted garlic or 7 cloves minced.
  • 2 whole eggs beaten.
  • ½ Parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1½ pounds ground corned beef
  • Tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce
  • Grated parmesan and chopped basil.


Soak the croutons in milk. Preheat the oven to 400ᵒF.

In the 5-quart mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, onion, breadcrumbs, milk, garlic, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and herbs. Mix well, then add the beef, and mix by hand. Using an ice cream scoop, form the mixture into 24 large meatballs. Cook the meatballs on a baking tray until browned on all sides, then transfer them to a baking dish or skillet with tomato sauce and bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.

TO SERVE: top with grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil.

Typically, we eat about 3 a piece and freeze the rest.