Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mozzarella-Stuffed 3 Meat Italian Meatballs

"I swear to God, Julie.  They were so good I think I swallowed them whole."  Ummm... how is THAT for a testimonial?  Ha!  A dear friend of ours owns a wine store.  He somehow heard I was making homemade meatballs one night and asked my husband to bring some by.  I can't tell you how many times he hooks us up with just the perfect wine pairing for any meal, or finds some bottle of something I need when I decide to cook a recipe on the fly... so of COURSE I was going to hook him up with some of these homemade three meat, mozzarella-stuffed Italian meatballs!  

First of all, I was determined that they would not be "one note."  I wanted them to be delicate, melt in your mouth tender, and yet super flavorful.  I chose to mix veal, beef, and Italian sausage and the result was "WOW!"  I supercharged the flavor with tons of herbs.... then as an additional option, I STUFFED the middle of the meatballs with chunks of fresh mozzarella.  Don't let the list scare you.  It's just dumping a bunch of herbs together in a bowl with the meat!  

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Ingredients:  (Makes about 4 dozen, 1/2 ounce meatballs)
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground beef (85/15)
  • 1/2 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 cup Parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
  • 3/4 cup garlic and herb bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp finely minced garlic (~ 2 large cloves)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • optional - 1 fresh mozzarella ball cut into small cubes

Step-by-Step: 
Mix together the three meats in a large bowl.  Here we have the red beef for structure, the brown Italian sausage for flavor, and the pink veal for tenderness.
Beef, Italian sausage, Veal.
Add in the freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano.  We are on flavor overload here!
Please not that fake stuff in the can.  If you want good flavor, you really need to use good ingredients. This is one place that you really don't want to cut corners.  Buy it in a block and grate your own. 
 1 cup Parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
Add in the flavored bread crumbs.  This helps to keep the meatballs from being too dense.
3/4 cup garlic and herb bread crumbs
Add in all the herbs and seasonings.  We definitely want our meatballs to be flavorful and not bland.
 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp finely minced garlic (~ 2 large cloves)
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
Now we add our eggs as a binder.
3 large eggs
I added milk to make them even more tender.  Hey... it works for my hamburgers!  :)
1/3 cup milk
Now, with a delicate hand, let's get this all mixed up.  I don't think you can get a better mixing utensil than your hands for this... but you may want to consider removing your rings first.   You don't want to overwork the meat.  Just gently mix to combine.
Now let's take a step off the path for a second.  The only way to know if we have adequately seasoned them is to taste them.  It's not likely we are going to taste the raw meat, so you have two options.  You can 1) take my word for it on the seasoning, or 2) make a tiny little patty and fry it up (think baby doll hamburger) and taste it.   
Can you see all the seasonings in there?  :)
If you give the seasonings a thumbs up, then we are ready to make meatballs!  I rummaged around in the kitchen drawer until I found a 1/2 ounce cookie scoop.  I think this size meatball will be perfect for my family, and also not take forever to cook.  Just for reference, this is just a bit smaller than a golf ball I suppose.
First I am just going to roughly portion them out.  I'm not going to even bother with making sure they are smooth or anything.  I just sort of need a visual of what's going on and how many I'm dealing with here.  The other advantage to using the cookie scoop is that all of our meatballs will end up a uniform size.  Not only will this make them prettier, but it means they will all have the same cooking time - a VERY important thing!  We don't want some undercooked and others overcooked!
I'm also getting my fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes.  
Here's how I did it.  For each meatball to be stuffed, I made well in one side with my thumb, and buried a piece of mozzarella in the hollow.
Then I closed up the meatball around the cheese and rolled the meatball between my two hands until it was pretty and smooth, making sure there were no cracks.  Now I fully knew that some cheese would still find its way out... but I wanted to seal it in best that I could.
Now they are all so pretty and round.  Notice that I have set them on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.  One of the most frequent complaints from people making meatballs is the clean up afterwards.  Well with the parchment paper, you just throw the paper away and your clean up will be a snap!  It will also keep them from sticking.  Double YAY!! 
Bake them in a preheated 350 degree oven for around 30-35 minutes.
Believe me when I tell you that the house smelled WONDERFUL!
You can see that the parmesan and some of the fat from the meat is starting to bake out of the meatballs.  At this point, you can be thankful that you set them all on parchment paper.
After 30 minutes, I took them out to check on them.  Oh my WORD!  What a vision... and not to mention the wonderful smell!  You can see that some of the mozzarella has started to ooze out.  Ehh, I'm not going to stress over that.  As a matter of fact, this will alert your dinner guests of what is to come.  
I'm sure they were perfectly fine at 30 minutes, but I wanted them to be just a tad bit browner, so I popped them back in for another 5 minutes.
And here we are after baking for 35 minutes.  Aren't they GORGEOUS?!
Now there will be firm enough to hold up to simmering in your favorite pasta sauce, or making that perfect meatball sub.
Let's have a look on the inside.  Tender, flavorful meatballs, gooey melted mozzarella.... ohhhh! Delizioso!
Once the meatballs are baked, you have some options.  You can simmer them in your favorite pasta sauce and serve over pasta.  Somehow in the marinara sauce, they seem to get even more tender. You can also allow them to cool and then freeze them in a zip-top freezer bag.  They freeze beautifully!


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Written Method: 

Mix together the three meats in a large bowl.  Also add in the Parmigiano reggiano, the flavored bread crumbs, and all the herbs and seasonings.  We definitely want our meatballs to be flavorful and not bland.  Add the eggs as a binder and the milk to make them even more tender.  

Now, with a delicate hand, let's get this all mixed up.  You may want to consider removing your rings first.  You don't want to overwork the meat.  Just gently mix to combine.  Now let's take a step off the path for a second.  The only way to know if we have adequately seasoned them is to taste them.  It's not likely we are going to taste the raw meat, so you have two options.  You can 1) take my word for it on the seasoning, or 2) make a tiny little patty and fry it up (think baby doll hamburger) and taste it.

If you give the seasonings a thumbs up, then we are ready to make meatballs!  I rummaged around in the kitchen drawer until I found a 1/2 ounce cookie scoop.  I think this size meatball will be perfect for my family, and also not take forever to cook.  Just for reference, this is just a bit smaller than a golf ball I suppose.  First roughly portion them out.  Don't even bother making sure they are smooth or anything.  You can also take this opportunity to get your fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes.

Here's how I did it.  For each meatball to be stuffed, I made well in one side with my thumb, and buried a piece of mozzarella in the hollow.  Then I closed up the meatball around the cheese and rolled the meatball between my two hands until it was pretty and smooth, making sure there were no cracks.  Be aware that some cheese will still find its way out... but you still want to seal it best that you can.


Go ahead and have your oven preheating on 350 degrees F.  For easy clean up, set your meatballs out on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.  One of the most frequent complaints from people making meatballs is the clean up afterwards.  With the parchment paper, you just throw the paper away and your clean up will be a snap!  It will also keep them from sticking.  Double YAY!!  When ready, bake them in a preheated 350 degree oven for around 30-35 minutes.

You may notice that some of the parmesan and fat from the meat will start to bake out of the meatballs.  At this point, you can be thankful that you set them all on parchment paper.  After 30 minutes, I took them out to check on them.  Oh my WORD!  What a vision... not to mention the wonderful smell!  You may also notice that some of the mozzarella may start to ooze out depending on how well you sealed them up.  Ehh, don't stress over that.  As a matter of fact, this will alert your dinner guests of what is to come.  I'm sure they are perfectly fine at 30 minutes, but if you want them just a tad bit browner, pop them back in for another 5 minutes.  Completely your choice.  Now they will be firm enough to hold up to simmering in your favorite pasta sauce or making that perfect meatball sub.

Once the meatballs are baked, you have some options.  They are fully cooked and you can eat them as it, of course, so go ahead.  You deserve one.. or a few!  You can simmer them in your favorite marinara and serve over pasta.  You can also allow them to cool and then freeze them in a zip-top freezer bag.  They freeze beautifully!

5 comments:

  1. Hello! This looks delicious, but veal is not a meat I am comfortable using. This is not a PETA post, it's just my opinion (to each his own). Do you think this would still be good with just the two meats or do you think there is another meat I could substitute it with? Thanks for your opinion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there. Since veal is a very "soft" meat, I would substitute for another soft meat, like perhaps ground turkey. I'm sure they will also be very flavorful with just the two meats, just perhaps not quite as tender. I hope you enjoy. :)

      Delete
  2. Okay, I'm with anonymous when it comes to veal, but glad to know I can omit it. I made meatballs last week and tried to be healthy and used ground turkey, and they were horrible! I need to "beef" it up a little. Thanks for the recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think in that case, I'd go half and half beef and Italian sausage. I think you'll appreciate the extra fat and flavor in the pork. Good luck! - Julie

      Delete

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