Bocconcini-Stuffed Meatballs are a great accompaniment for my marinara sauce and paired together, are a match made in heaven. In my opinion, it is hard to go wrong cooking up spaghetti and meatballs. Bocconcini-Stuffed Meatballs are always a big hit. The beauty of putting the meat into a ball means that if you have a guest who does not like meat, they can just enjoy the meat-free marinara sauce instead. It’s a win/win, really. What makes this dish even more spectacular is the inclusion of a bocconcini cheese ball in each meatball for an extra surprise when you bite into it! Brilliant, don’t you think? I know, you’re thinking….”Who are you calling a cheeseball?!!”… Anyways, I digress! For those of you not familiar with a bocconcini cheese ball, I will tell you that it is a very creamy type of mozzarella that is the perfect size to fit into the meatball. There are pictures of it further down the post that demonstrate very nicely just how perfect it is for this recipe.
The trick to making Bocconcini-Stuffed Meatballs is that they must be sealed very well in order to keep the cheese inside and not leaking out. You don’t want to miss out on any cheesy goodness that might escape if they aren’t sealed well. I think that this recipe really works out best if you use the slow-cooked method. The flavour of the meatball and the sauce will become very hearty due to the long cooking time. That is not to say, though, that they wouldn’t be just as good cooked in the oven. I know that everyone is busy and doesn’t necessarily have time for the slow cooker. So, here’s what I try to do….I try to plan ahead and will cook at least one dish on the weekend when I have more time to devote to slow cooking. Then, when I am busy at work during the week, it’s all ready to go and just needs to be reheated. Smart, don’t you think??! So, you could do the meatballs on Saturday in the slow cooker and the marinara sauce on Sunday. You are all set for spaghetti and Bocconcini-Stuffed Meatballs for dinner Sunday! Perfect, really. This recipe post will be followed by the recipe for the marinara sauce. It is a great recipe for this dish but I will also show you how versatile it is for a variety of dishes. Here is the link to my Slow Cooked Marinara Sauce. http://www.funeasyamazingrecipes.com/slow-cooked-marinara-sauce.
- 1 Pound Ground beef You can use either regular or lean for this recipe.
- 1 Pound Ground pork If you prefer, you can use 2 lbs of ground hamburger. I find that the ground pork make the meatballs juicier
- 2 Large Eggs
- 2 Tsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Onion, finely minced
- 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/2 Cup Pepperoni, diced
- 36 Balls Bocconcini cheese These are small balls of mozzarella cheese that are the perfect size for meatballs!
- 1/4 Cup Milk any type is fine here
- 1/2 Cup Parmesean Cheese, finely grated
- 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1/2 Cup Fresh herbs of your choosing, chopped I like to use fresh basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary.
- 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tsp Salt I prefer seasoning salt but you can use whatever kind you would like
- 1 Tsp Pepper
- 1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes, optional
Preheat the oven onto 350 degrees. In a medium skillet, add the olive oil and then, add the onions. Cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes until the onions are softened and translucent, add garlic and continue cooking for another 30 seconds or so. Remove from heat and set aside. Combine all ingredients except the bocconcini cheese balls but try not to overmix the meat! It will make the meatballs tough. You want to end up with 36 meatballs to go along with the 36 bocconcini cheese balls you have to stuff with. What I did was actually measure and divide the total by 36 so that I had the correct weight for each meatball and that way they would all be equal in size. So, once you have determined how big the meatball will be, form a patty in your hand and then add a bocconcini cheese ball to the centre as the picture shows. You may find it easier to use an ice-cream scoop to evenly measure out the hamburger mix.
Roll the meatball between your two hand to form a ball and be sure that it is well sealed so that none of the awesome cheese can makes its way out! Continue this process until all 36 meatballs have been formed and filled with a cheese ball. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and coated with vegetable spray. This makes clean up a lot easier once they are cooked! If you are planning on slow-cooking these, then you will want to just partly cook them in the oven. I do this so that they will hold their shape nicely once you place them in the slow cooker. Cook for 10 minutes, then take them out of the oven, flip them over on the pan, return to the oven and continue baking for another 5-7 minutes. Another benefit to par-cooking these meatballs is that you will eliminate some of the fat that is cooked off before they reach the slow cooker. Put a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of the slow-cooker and then carefully add the partially cooked meatballs to the slow cooker. Top with more marinara sauce - enough to fully submerge the meatballs. Cook on high for 4 hours.
Here is a picture below of the finished product. It is very important to be sure that the cheese is well wrapped up in the meat. If you would like to just bake these in the oven and skip the slow cooker, then you would cook them initially for 15 minutes, then take them out of the oven, flip them all over and return to the oven for another 7-10 minutes until they are fully cooked through. You can let them cool at this point and freeze them if you would like them for later on.