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4 to 6 servings, about 28 1½-inch meatballs in 7 cups sauce

For the sauce:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces salt pork, thinly sliced

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3 tablespoons minced onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 28-ounce cans imported Italian crushed tomatoes

6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Pinch of dried oregano

Salt and ground black pepper

For the meatballs:

1 pound ground lean beef

½ pound ground veal

½ pound ground pork

2 large eggs

1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese

1½ tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 small garlic clove, minced

Salt and ground black pepper

2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, lightly smashed

1. Make the sauce: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, then add the salt pork. Sauté until fat has rendered, about five minutes. Remove and discard salt pork. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about three minutes. Add garlic and sauté just until softened. Add tomatoes with their juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 45 minutes. Add the basil, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a minute more.

2. Make the meatballs: In a mixing bowl, combine the beef, veal and pork. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley and minced garlic, then salt and pepper as desired. Add the breadcrumbs and mix well. Slowly add up to 2 cups water, ½ cup at a time, until the mixture is moist; all the water may not be needed. Shape into 1½-inch meatballs.

3. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and sauté until lightly browned, one to two minutes, then discard the garlic. Working in batches and taking care not to crowd the pan, add meatballs and fry until undersides are brown and slightly crisp, five to six minutes. Turn and brown the other sides, about five minutes more. Transfer cooked meatballs to paper towels to drain, then add to the marinara sauce. Mix gently and serve.

Adapted by The New York Times from Rao’s restaurant

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