Bombette Pugliesi | Traditional Italian Meat Rolls

Bombette Pugliesi are a popular meat recipe in Puglia, especially in Val d’Itria.

Bombette are small rolls of meat stuffed with pancetta and caciocavallo cheese. Mini pork braciole in a nutshell!

Bombette Pugliesi are a staple street food in Italy. It’s easy to find these meat rolls, already prepared and cooked, at butcher shops and kiosks in Puglia’s towns.

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They are the center of attention, especially in the summer, at festivals and fairs. Here you can enjoy these rolls with many different fillings, often skewered and grilled. A real treat!

Fortunately, you can easily make this delicacy at home!

Traditionally, they are made with pork, usually “capocollo” (pork butt), thinly sliced.

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The authentic Pugliese bombetta recipe calls for a stuffing of pancetta, caciocavallo cheese, garlic and parsley. They are a total explosion of flavor, hence the name “bombette” (little bombs). This is due to the blast of aromas that is released when you take a bite of these delicious Italian meat rolls!

As with all traditional recipes, there are some variations. They concern the type of meat, the filling and, as we shall see, the method of cooking.

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Bombette Pugliesi are ideal to serve as a second course with some tasty taralli, perhaps after orecchiette with broccoli rabe, for a dinner made entirely in Puglia!

Enjoy them with your family, at a dinner with friends or prepare them for a party. Bombette pugliesi bring joy to the table and are truly amazing!

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  • Prep Time: 15 Min
  • Cook Time: 20 Min
  • Servings: 4

  • 8 thin slices of pork butt (capocollo)
  • 8 thin slices of pancetta
  • 80 g (3 oz) of caciocavallo cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • a bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Try this authentic Olio di Puglia by Le Ferre
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Apulian Stuffed Meat Rolls (Bombette Pugliesi): Instructions

Prepare the Meat

bombette pugliesi recipe step 1Step 1) – First you need to buy the right kind of meat. That is, an excellent “capocollo” (pork butt), cut into thin slices.

Cover the pork butt slice with a sheet of baking paper. Then pound the slices with a meat pounder to make them even thinner.

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Step 2) – Pugliese bombette are small, 3 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches), so the slices should not be very large. From one slice you usually make two rolls by cutting it in half.

Season the pork slices with a little salt and pepper.

The Stuffing

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Step 3) – Now move on to the stuffing. Lay a slice of pancetta on top of the meat. Meanwhile, thinly slice the caciocavallo cheese and set aside.

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Step 4) – With a small chopper, chop the garlic and parsley.

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Step 5) – Now place the caciocavallo slices on the pancetta. Then add the chopped parsley and garlic.

Finally fold the stuffed pork slices in two.

PLEASE NOTE: If you do not want to eat the garlic, rub the pork slice with the garlic clove, just to give it some flavor, and then stuff them.

Close the Bombette

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Step 6) – Close the slice of meat tightly to form small round pork balls. Secure the ends with wooden toothpicks.

Sprinkle the bombetta with a little salt and pepper to taste.

PLEASE NOTE: To make authentic bombette pugliesi, you should not roll the slice of meat completely, rather create small balls by folding the sides, as if it were a package, and close it with toothpicks.

The Cooking: Three Methods

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Step 7A) FRY PAN: Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan. Place the bombette and let them brown over medium heat for 10 minutes. Turn the meat over and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so, until the Pugliese bombette are well cooked on the inside and golden brown on the outside.

Step 7B) BAKE: Alternatively, you can bake the pugliese bombette in a preheated oven at 200°C (392°F) for 20 minutes and finish roasting under the grill for a few minutes.

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Step 7C) BARBEQUE: Of course, the best cooking is still on the barbecue, if you have it available. For barbecue, it is best to skewer 3 or 4 bowlers on a single skewer so that they can be more conveniently arranged on the grill.

Pugliese Bombette are ready! Try them with our roasted potatoes recipe! Buon appetito!

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How to Store Bombette Pugliesi

Bombette Pugliesi are great eaten hot with a stringy interior.

If they are left over, you can keep them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

It is possible to prepare them in advance. You can make them the day before and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Or you can freeze them. Store in the freezer, sealed in freezer bags, for up to 1 month. It is best to defrost them in the refrigerator before cooking.

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Bombette Pugliesi: Some Variations 

The traditional recipe of these tasty Bombette Pugliesi is made with pork meat stuffed with pancetta and caciocavallo cheese. But let’s see other variations that are popular in Italy:

  • BREADED BOMBETTE: This is the most popular variation, so much so that we can consider it a classic recipe. The slices of meat are breaded on both sides and then stuffed. The breading makes the meat rolls crispier.
  • THE CHEESE: For the filling, you can use mozzarella instead of caciocavallo.
  • PANCETTA: Prosciutto Cotto can be used instead of pancetta.
  • SMOKED BOMBETTE: For a smoked version, use smoked pancetta and smoked provolone.
  • GARLIC: If you don’t like garlic, you can leave it out. Many people add sun-dried tomatoes to the filling.
  • THE MEAT: Most people use “capocollo”, which is the pork butt, a fatty part that remains very soft and flavorful. If you want to use leaner meat, you can choose pork loin, veal sirloin or chicken breast. Of course, the result will be drier. But thanks to the small size of these little balls and the use of pancetta inside, the result will still be very tasty.
  • WITH TOMATO SAUCE: Very tasty is the version with tomato sauce. Cook the meatballs in about 250 grams (1 cup) of tomato passata over medium heat for about half an hour. You can even use this delicious sauce to dress pasta.

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Bombetta Pugliese: Origins and History

Bombette Pugliesi is a very popular recipe in Italy that belongs to a particular area in Puglia: the Itria Valley.

Valle d’Itria, the famous and beautiful valley of trulli between the provinces of Bari, Brindisi and Taranto, which includes the towns of Alberobello, Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca.

Over time, the bombette spread to other towns in the Murgia region, and today everyone offers their own version, claiming to have the best recipe.

In reality, however, Cisternino and Martina Franca are competing for the title of “inventor of the bombette”.

These towns have many “fornelli”, the typical wood ovens in which meat is cooked.

In fact, many butcher’s shops in the area have a “fornello” and, after selling meat over the counter during the day, they become an Italian “fast food” in the evening, allowing customers to enjoy all kinds of freshly cooked meat while sitting in romantic and enchanting corners of the historic centers.

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It really seems that the invention of the bombette took place in Martina Franca in the 60s.

Mrs. Maria Giliberti, wife of the butcher Ninuccio Lasorte, was the first to try this specialty of meat and cheese, but with horse meat.

It was her husband who realized that the recipe needed to be perfected.

He replaced the horsemeat with pork, which was softer and juicier when cooked.

Immediately the “bombetta” became very popular, first in the butcher’s shop of Mr. Lasorte, then in Martina Franca and finally in the whole Itria Valley (Locorotondo, Cisternino, Alberobello, etc.).

“Bombetta” and “Capocollo di Martina Franca” are two of the best slow food products of the Itria Valley (and perhaps of Apulia).

To find them together in the same recipe is something unique to taste!

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