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Polpette Napoletane
meatballs, Naples version

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The meatballs are technically a second course, served on plate with a spoonful of sauce. The sauce can be used for a simple pasta, served as a first course with a swirl of olive oil and lots of grated cheese.    

for the meatballs

400 g (14 oz) ground beef not too lean

150 g (5-6 oz) stale bread

white wine

100 g (about 4 oz) grated cheese half parmigiano half pecorino romano

1 Tablespoon finely chopped capers

1 clove garlic ground to a paste

small bunch of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

salt & pepper

1 egg beaten


Use your hands to mix all of the above adding the egg last. Add another egg if necessary to make a soft mixture. Form the meatballs into rounds, almost as big as a tennis ball.

to cook the meatballs


olive oil


Pass the meatballs through flour and brown them in olive oil over medium high heat. Cook them just long enough to brown well on all sides and then add the meatballs to the red sauce below.

for the sauce

small onion chopped

olive oil


tomato passata (tomato puree)

sweet basil


Cook chopped onion in olive oil so that it wilts and turns golden. Add tomato puree and salt and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the meatballs and a few leaves of sweet basil and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and sauce has reduced a bit. No need to make a huge pot of sauce, it only needs to cover about 3/4 of the meatballs, turn them every now and again so they cook evenly.

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