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Makes approx. 40 meatballs
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 small yellow onion, minced2 pounds ground pork shoulder2 large eggs1 cup finely grated pecorino cheese3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs 1 cup milk4 cloves garlic, minced2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary2 teaspoons fennel seed, coarsely ground¼ teaspoon fennel pollenKosher salt and freshly ground black pepperOven Roasted Plum Tomato Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium high Heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the milk over the bread crumbs in a bowl and let stand.
Place the onions in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients including the soaked breadcrumbs, 2 ½ teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
To test for seasoning, take a heaping tablespoon of the meatball mixture and make a patty. Warm a small frying pan over medium heat and fry the patty until done. Let cool slightly. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
Form the mixture into 40 small walnut-size meatballs.
Warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat and cook the meatballs in a single layer with space in between until light golden, about 3 minutes. Turn the meatballs and continue to cook on the second side until light golden, another 3 minutes. Lower the heat and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until the meatballs are done, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve on a platter with warm plum tomato dipping sauce on the side.
OVEN-ROASTED PLUM TOMATO DIPPING SAUCE
Olive oil for brushing16 plum tomatoes, cored and halved, about 2 1/2 pounds1/4 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary½ teaspoon fresh chopped oregano 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 small yellow onion, minced¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat an oven to 300°F.
Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and place the tomatoes, cut side up close together, on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with rosemary, oregano and salt and let stand for 1 hour.Place the tomatoes in the oven and cook until they have dried halfway but are still moist, 3 hours.
Note: These can be baked 3 to 4 days ahead of time to this point.
Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have fallen apart and the water has evaporated, 30 minutes. Add the balsamic and simmer for 5 more minutes. Pass the mixture through a food mill or puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Place in a clean pan for reheating. Serve warm.
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