Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

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Who doesn’t love a good meatball?  Okay, maybe a few people, but certainly not me and my crew.  My mom doesn’t eat a lot of carbs (despite loving them), so these are a great meal that we can all be happy about.

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I have this obsession with trying to figure out how restaurants get their meatballs so uniform and compact.  I suspect it’s by overworking the meat, which is exactly what EVERY RECIPE TELLS YOU NOT TO DO.  Even though they don’t really describe what overworking the meat means exactly so I say whatever to that, and slightly overwork my meatballs but you figure out you like.

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Eat these on their own with a little tomato sauce, serve over spaghetti or put in a delicious meatball sandwich the next day if you have any leftovers.  Make a double batch and throw some in the freezer for an easy and quick meal when you don’t feel like cooking.  The original recipe calls for half beef, half veal, but I love using the holy meatball trinity by adding some pork.  Feel free to use whatever you like.

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And here’s a little secret: you’re going to tuck a piece of smoked mozzarella in the middle of each ball to surprise the sh*t out of everyone with a gooey, melty, cheesy center when they cut into it.  Because that’s the best kind of surprise possible.  Tuck these babies into some sauce, sprinkle with some Parm and prepare for glory.

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Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

Yield: approximately 24 meatballs


One 6-ounce onion, grated on the fine side of a box grater

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup panko or Italian-style bread crumbs

1 large egg

2 tablespoons ketchup

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces ground beef

4 ounces ground veal

4 ounces ground pork

2 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


To make the Meatballs, in a large mixing bowl, combine the onion, parsley, Parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Using your hands, combine all of the ingredients.  Add the beef, veal, and pork; using your hands, mix the ingredients together.  You don’t want to overwork the meat, but you do want a homogenous mixture and shouldn’t see any pockets of a single ingredient.  Using a small ice cream scoop, shape the mixture into meatballs.  Press a cube of the cheese into the center and reform the meatballs to cover completely.  Place on a large baking sheet.  Once formed, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up the mixture. 

When ready to cook, preheat the broiler on high.  Drizzle or brush a little olive oil on the top of each meatball.  Broil for 7 to 9 minutes per side, flipping once to brown the bottoms. 

Alternatively, you can bake in the oven; preheat to 400° and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through. Preheat the broiler to high and broil the meatballs for 3 minutes per side, flipping once to brown the bottoms. Serve with your favorite tomato sauce!


Inspiration: Bucatini All’Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs on foodnetwork.com

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