POLPETTE ALLA NAPOLETANA (NAPLES' MEATBALLS)

Meatballs are the centrepiece of a traditional family feast in Naples. Different than typical meatballs served with pasta, these generously-sized three inch Polpette Alla Napoletana are eaten as a main dish, finished with a fresh tomato sauce for soaking accompanying country bread with a simple green salad on the side. Polpette texture is different, too. No crispy outer crust, they are super tender throughout. Delizioso!

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 lbs medium ground beef (or combine with half lbs ground pork)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Garlic olive oil 
1 tsp Cayenne olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, trimmed, very finely chopped
3/4 cup Pecorino cheese
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
2-1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, whisked 
1 to 1-1/4 cups (enough to make a loose paste)
2 cups homemade simple tomato sauce (or use a very high quality store bought sauce)

    Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, then brush a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil (or mist with sprayer). In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat all other oils until shimmering. Add the onion and salt cooking until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, then transfer half of the onion mixture to a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the Panko and water. Press together until softened and blended to a smooth paste. Add to onion mixture. Mix until well blended. Add eggs and combine, then add meat and cheese, then mix with hands until completely combined. Divide the mixture into portions to create 3 inch balls. An easy way to do this is to use a 1/2-cup measuring cup to divide. Shape using your hands into compact balls. To prevent sticking to your hands, lightly oil them. Place on baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Refrigerate uncovered for 20 minutes. As necessary, reshape into round balls. Place in oven and bake until lightly browned about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. In high rimmed skillet or Dutch oven, place tomato sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer. Then add meatballs, turning to coat each one. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread freshly grated parmesan, fresh basil and drizzles of olive oil.

    Inspired by various recipes including Milk Street and Our Italian Table.