You read that right - mozzarella-stuffed meatballs. Meatballs with mozzarella inside of them. You cut into a juicy meatball and melted cheese oozes out.
In the words of Hilary Duff-as-Lizzie McGuire: hey now, this is what dreams are made of.
I've made these suckers twice now. The first time I used ground chicken as suggested in the recipe and they ended up on the dry side. The second time I used ground turkey and they were much better. Of course, you can make these with any ground meat you want and they will still be scrumptious. I'm even thinking of trying feta-filled lamb meatballs, maybe blue cheese inside beef... ok I'm getting off track. Back to the task at hand!
Start off making your meatball. Mix your chosen protein with an egg, breadcrumbs, cheese if you like, and whatever seasonings you choose (I added dried oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and thyme). Some people measure this exactly, but I'm more of a "add until it's ready" kinda girl. What is "ready"? When the meatballs stick together and don't fall apart. You'll get there, I promise.
After it's seasoned to your liking, shape each meatball with your hands, about the size of a golf ball. Then, poke a little indent with your finger and add in the bocconcini. Carefully re-seal the meatball and make sure that you can't see any of the cheese. If you can see it, it can seep out during cooking, and it ruins the melty surprise.
Mentally make a note to put that vase away and to paint your nails after dinner.
You'll come to learn that I make my own tomato sauce. No jarred sauce here! It's one of the first things J taught me when we first started dating - fresh onions, garlic, spices/herbs, and a can of crushed tomatoes. It's easy, it's far more flavorful, and I like it. Sometimes I'll doctor mine up with some wine or balsamic, but even a simple version is tasty. I highly recommend you try this at home.
I made my sauce and brought it to a low simmer. In a separate pan, I seared the outside of the meatballs. Then, I nestled them all into the sauce and topped with some chiffonaded basil. Chiffonade is long ribbon-y strips, for those of you who are curious.
Into the oven! I baked at 350 degrees until the meatballs were cooked through. Yes, sadly, I did have to sacrifice the cheesy center of one to test the doneness, but it still tasted delicious in the end.
Meatballs go with pasta, right? Sometimes. My second time making these, they sat on top of spaghetti. The first time, I served these alongside some sauteed zucchini seasoned with fresh thyme. Shave a little Parmesan over the sauced-up balls and you're good to go!
Once again with this vision of cheesy excellence for good measure:
Please make these, I beseech you. They're easy, they're delicious, and most importantly, they're meatballs filled with cheese. Enjoy!