Meatless Pecorino Meatballs
8 large eggs
3 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
1 cup freshly grated pecorino ( or half pecorino and half Grana Padano or Parmesan Reggiano for a milder flavor)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 T. finely chopped basil, about 20 large leaves ( out of season, use pesto)
2 plump garlic cloves, minced
1 cup vegetable oil
2 batches (6-7 cups) Tomato Sauce
Fresh basil for garnish
Beat eggs well in a large bowl. Heap the bread crumbs, grated cheese, salt, chopped basil, and garlic on top of the eggs, and mix everything together well, first with a big spoon or spatula and then with your hands. The dough should come together in s soft mass, leaving the sides of the bowl. If it is very sticky, work in more bread crumbs a bit at a time.
Break off tablespoon pieces of dough and one by one roll them in your palms into a smooth ball. Place the polpettine on a board or tray covered with waxed paper or parchment – you should get about 60 balls.
Bring 1/8” oil in a heavy skillet and set over medium flame. When the oil is hot enough that a test ball starts sizzling on contact, lay in as many polpettine as will fill the pan with clear space around them. Turn balls to brown on all sides. When they are evenly browned on all sides, lift them form the pan, let the oil drip back into the pan, and then lay them on paper towels to drain.
Fry all the polpettine this way, adding more oil as needed. As a snack of hors d’oeuve, serve each freshly fried batch while hot and crispy. Keep warm in a warmed oven.