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Neapolitan Meatballs with Ragu
In Naples, meatballs are generously sized, and their texture is ultra-tender from a high ratio of bread to meat. For our version, we opted to use Japanese panko breadcrumbs. Panko greatly streamlines the meatball-making process, eliminating the need to remove the crusts from fresh bread, cut and measure, soak in water, then squeeze out excess moisture. Panko only needs to be moistened with water and it’s ready to use. Neapolitans serve their meatballs with a basic tomato sauce they refer to as “ragu.” We use Pecorino liberally in this recipe: a chunk simmered in the sauce, as well as grated both in and over the meatballs. Though not traditional, pasta is a fine accompaniment. Or offer warm, crusty bread alongside.
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
large yellow onion, finely chopped
01Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and mist with cooking spray. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the pot from the heat, then transfer half of the onion mixture to a large bowl.
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