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Spaghetti and Meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs each are popular foods in Italy, but the two are never served together as they are in all-American “spaghetti and meatballs.” Nevertheless, we took the lessons we learned in Naples on how to make polpette Napoletane—Neapolitan meatballs that are ultra-tender and generously sized—and created this family-friendly comfort food classic. To streamline the meatball-making process, use Japanese panko breadcrumbs, which have a fluffy yet coarse texture. Panko only needs to be hydrated and it’s ready to use, so there’s no need to remove the crusts from fresh bread, cut and measure, soak in water, then squeeze out excess moisture. We brown the meatballs in the oven rather than fry them on the stovetop so there’s less splatter, then a 20-minute simmer in the sauce gives the flavors a chance to deepen and meld. If your chunk of pecorino has a natural rind (some types are colored black with a food-safe paint), simmer a piece into the tomato sauce for heightened savoriness, and remove it before adding the meatballs.
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
medium yellow onion, finely chopped