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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Meatballs

I worked at a restaurant in Ann Arbor that had a creative and pricey menu. It always sort of made me laugh that among a bunch of other fairly fancy dishes they offered spaghetti and meatballs...and it was one of their most popular meals. Considering the price I couldn't understand why anyone would actually order it. Until I tried the meatballs. They were incredible. I've tried several times to make meatballs as good as theirs and I've never come close. BUT, I made these the other night - and they might be my new favorite. The key - a gooey smoked mozzarella middle. You can make them without the cheese of course, or with reguular mozzarella but they're pretty good the way they are. The other best part about them is that they only take 15 minutes and they're BAKED, so no messy pans to clean up after.

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
* you could also third the beef and pork and do a 1/3 ground veal to make them even better
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (use fresh if you can - soooo much better than the other stuff)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 egg
2 tbsp ketchup
3 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 oz smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (no larger!)


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the parsley, parmesan, bread crumbs, herbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.

3. Add the beef and pork. Use your hands to mix it all together gently.

4. Form the meat into balls a tiny bit larger than the size of a golf ball and place on the cookie sheet about an inch apart. You should end up with 15-17ish.

5. Poke your finger into the top of each but be careful not to go all the way through. Put a cube of cheese in each and then close the meatball over them. Make sure the cheese is well covered to avoid a gooey mess.

6. Place the meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through. The cheese may bubble on a few, but they'll stay in tact.

* When they're finished, I like to add the ones I'm going to eat that night right into the sauce on the stove to make them extra moist and to give the sauce a little extra flavor. I let the rest cool a bit and then put them in a plastic bag in the freezer.

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