Rule #316: Meatballs are best when they’re stuffed.
Hurricane Harvey is here! Well, technically not here where we are, but in Texas anyway. We’ve been spared the bad stuff for now, but we’re getting ready for flooding and some heavy winds. Until then… we’re just hanging out and playing with the big boy and cookin’ some yummy stuff.
Jon Boy actually helped me make these meatballs since we weren’t feeling super rushed like a normal weeknight dinner. He did a great job, I must say! I might have to make him my sous chef soon. He also made some AMAZING Italian Margaritas to go with our dinner, and holy smokes. Imma have to post that one ASAP.
We love to have ours with Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi and a simple roasted veggie like broccoli. Makes for a light, delicious dinner that tastes amazing! Gotta keep the waistline and the taste buds happy, yes?!
Here’s the step-by-step for how to make these little nuggets of Italian deliciousness:
Mix all the goodness together.
Using a tablespoon or a tablespoon scoop, portion out some meat.
Flatten the meat into a disc.
Place some mozzarella in the middle (I didn’t have the right sized mozzarella balls – thank you, Hurricane Harvey). The ciliegene sized (about the size of a cherry) ones are perfectly round and adorable.
These are the ones you want:
Gently fold the meat around the mozzarella until all sides of the cheese are covered.
Roll into a ball (it’s okay if just a little cheese shows).
The key to easily browning meatballs: chill them in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This will keep them formed so they don’t fall apart while you’re browning them in the skillet. If you’re making them ahead, throw them in the freezer for 10, then move them to an airtight container in the fridge. They should keep for a few hours until you’re ready to brown + bake.
Roll them in some flour to coat all sides. Place them in the hot oil and brown on all sides (about 2 minutes per side).
I flip mine 3 times – think: top, bottom, side. Make sure you work in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan – this will make the heat of the oil go down too much which would result in mushy meatballs. Yuck. Set the cooked meatballs aside.
In your oven proof skillet or Dutch oven, heat the sauce until warm. Nestle in your lovely meatballs. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes or until cooked through. Cover and keep warm until serving. Garnish with Parm and basil. Voila.
MMMMM Vinho Verde! If you’ve never tried it, you’ve got to. It’s less alcohol-per-volume (and calories) than other white wines. It’s light, a little fizzy and perfect to have while you’re cooking or hanging out on the patio.
nom nom nom nom nom
Everyone stay safe out there during this crazy weather! Also… get groceries delivered so you can make these…
Our kids even gobble these gems up! I think the mozzarella cheese in the middle makes for a fun little dinner-time treasure hunt.
Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Meatballs
1 lb. ground chicken
½ cup Parmesan, shredded
1/3 cup plain Panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, whisked
¾ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped (or ½ tsp. dry)
1 tsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (or ½ tsp. dry)
½ – 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you want)
Ciliegine (cherry size) mozzarella balls
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup EVOO
2 jars marinara sauce
Fresh basil leaves, julienned, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
In a large bowl, combine chicken, Parmesan, Panko, eggs, S&P, oregano, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Using a tablespoon (or tablespoon scoop), scoop out portions of meat and flatten with your hand. Place 1 mozzarella ball in the middle of the flattened patty. Fold the sides of the meat around the mozzarella so that you completely cover the cheese. Add more meat if you need to. Repeat the process with the remaining meat, and save any extra mozzarella balls for later. Place the formed meatballs on a Pyrex or freezer-friendly dish and chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until meatballs are firm.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Heat the EVOO over medium-high heat in a large skillet until shimmering. Roll the chilled meatballs in the flour until fully coated. Brown meatballs on all sides (about 2 minutes per side). Work in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan. Set cooked meatballs aside on a paper towel lined plate. Discard oil; wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
In a large Dutch oven or oven-proof skillet, heat the marinara sauce until warm. Place the cooked meatballs throughout the sauce, coating the meatballs with the sauce. Sprinkle in any extra mozzarella balls throughout the pan. Cover and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Cover and keep warm until serving. Garnish with basil and grated Parmesan.