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Stuffed Meatballs

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August 12, 2014 / Italian / By
Nicola

Recently, I have been trying to find ways to make my money go further, without compromising on my food's taste or quality. Minced beef is relatively cheap compared to other meats, so it's usually a staple in my fridge, but I've been trying to make even more meals out of it.

Italian food is very popular in my household, so we go through a lot of pasta and meat-based dishes like Bolognese. Meatballs are firm favourites, but they're not very resourceful - you end up using large quantities of mince to make just a few meatballs. How could I make meatballs, in a way that used less mince? Simple: by stuffing them!

Cheese is the ideal meatball filler, as it melts during cooking, meaning that the meatballs end up oozing and delicious. I use Cheddar cheese as I always have a stash of it in my fridge, but you can use Red Leicester, Mozzarella, or whatever else takes your fancy. If you choose Mozzarella you can actually get small spheres of it, which are perfect for going inside meatballs, but I find that using cubes of harder cheeses work just as well. After all, you can mould the mince into whatever shape you like - it doesn't matter what shape the filling is!

Anyway, with regards to the meatball mixture itself, there are several different ways to make it; each recipe will tell you something different. If you have a regular meatball recipe which you usually use, you can use the same mixture here. Otherwise, here are my tips:

Finely chop an onion and add it to the mince, along with any seasonings or flavourings that you like. When I'm feeling lazy, I leave it at that - believe it or not, this simple combination actually makes remarkably good meatballs, which don't fall apart! However, for slightly more moist meatballs, soak a slice of bread (with the crusts cut off) in a small amount of milk, and work this into the meat and onion mixture. Add a lightly beaten egg and make sure everything has been combined thoroughly.

Take a small, bite size cube of your cheese, and a little handful of meatball mix. Mould the mince around the cheese until you have a meaty sphere which looks just like an ordinary meatball, with none of the cheese visible. Continue making meatballs in this way until you have run out of meat, cheese, or both!

Shallow fry the meatballs in a pan of oil. Make sure that the oil isn't too hot, as you don't want to burn the outsides of the meatballs, without touching the cheese inside! The more you toss the frying pan, the more likely your meatballs are to break (even if you have used egg), but you'll need to move them around enough that they cook all over.

When they're ready, briefly place the meatballs on a piece of kitchen paper to absorb any extra oil before serving. It's up to you whether you eat these as they are, or throw them into a tomato sauce. I'm a fan of the latter; either way, these stuffed meatballs are best served hot, while the cheese is still melted and oozing inside. This is proper feel-good food, and you'll find that you get more meatballs for your money as well. What more could you ask for?!

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