Balls of meat stuffed with cheese and covered in a chunky marinara sauce?! I am all in. And I’m not sure if it’s being pregnant or the change in the seasons, or maybe both, but this kind of meal is right up my alley right now.
These meatballs are total comfort food and will leave you full and happy. Just like food should when it’s cold out. Who in their right mind is eating salad right now, anyway? I guess maybe I should be…but instead I’m eating meatballs, pasta and rosemary rolls. And I’m ok with that.
Like most meatballs you will end up with a mess in your kitchen. BUT you can form the meatballs ahead of time, refrigerate them, clean up that round of dishes, then fry and bake them for dinner that night, or even the next day. You can probably get away with not frying them at all and just putting them straight into the oven. Maybe just add 10-15 extra minutes, especially if you’ve refrigerated them. Regardless of the mess you make though, they are definitely worth it!
You have a few options with these meatballs. Pair with some spaghetti or other pasta (I made this spaghetti with simple garlic sauce and thought it was a nice combination) or load them onto some substantial crusty bread for meatball subs or sandwiches. One of the greatest things about these meatballs is that both of my kids LOVED them! So not only did Ben and I eat 2 dinners with them, but the kids had at least 4 meals of meatballs and ate them up. Carson asked for more! Rarely do they eat the food we do and enjoy it. This is definitely going into my kid friendly meal file.
One tool I use for cookies and meatballs and to get them to be uniform in size is a scoop like this. I have a small one (about 1 inch in diameter) and a larger one that is closer to 2 inches. It’s something I’d recommend you have in your kitchen if you do much cooking and baking. Get a sturdy one. It will be worth the money, work better and last longer than the cheaper ones will.
The original recipe simmers the meatballs in the sauce in the same pan they are cooked in. I finished them off in the oven and the only thing that wasn’t great about that was that some of the cheese escaped, which in the end was not a big deal. There was still plenty of cheese inside the meatballs! No need to worry. Enjoy!
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
Adapted slightly from Just a Pinch
Makes 24-30 meatballs depending on size
- 1 pound ground sirloin (90/10)
- 1 pound ground sweet Italian turkey sausage (or mild or hot)
- 1 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 small white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 27 cubes (or how ever many meat balls you get)
- olive oil
- 1 jar simple marinara sauce
- Mix meat, breadcrumbs, seasonings, onion, garlic, eggs and milk. Clean hands are the best tool for the job, but a spoon or spatula is fine. Mix until everything is combined but not overly mixed.
- Divide into balls of equal size, 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Place on a foil lined baking sheet, then take each meatball and press one cube of cheese into the center and form the meat around the cheese so that it is sealed. Place back on the foil lined baking sheet. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the meatballs for later.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Put 1/2 cup of flour into a bowl. Dredge each meatball lightly in flour, then place in the pan. Repeat until pan is full but not overly crowded. Cook for a minute or so on each side (I know this is hard to do with a round shape, but it’s not super important to get every bit of it cooked just the same. Just make sure the majority of the meatball is browned.) Be careful not to burn them. If they’re browning too much, turn down the heat. As the meatballs finish, move them to a 9×13 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Repeat with the remaining meatballs until they’ve all been browned, adding more oil if needed.
- Pour the entire jar of marinara sauce over the meatballs. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the jar, screw on the cap, shake it up and pour it over the meatballs also. Spread it out as evenly as you can. Put into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes (a little longer is you did not fry the meatballs or if they were refrigerated). Cut open a meatball to be sure they’re cooked thoroughly, there shouldn’t be much if any pink.
- Enjoy on top of pasta, or on some nice crusty bread.