You heard me right. Meatballs. Deep-fried. What I didn’t mention is that cheese is involved too.
After all, this is an Italian-inspired dish – at least as far as the flavors go. Most people just look at me funny though.
So, I’m going to preface this with the statement that I use a deep-fryer for this dish. You can probably do it in a pan, but my experiments there have found it, well, tricky to work out the timing and temperatures. The deep-fryer allows for a better temperature control, and cooks things much more evenly.
That said, set the fryer for 350F and let it warm up while you get things going. Vegetable oil is perfectly acceptable as a fry medium for this dish. You’re also going to need some pasta sauce so either get that heating or start making some pronto. A marinara can be made in 30 minutes, but I’m going to save that for a later date.
Next, take a ball of packaged (not fresh) mozzarella, and dice it up into roughly 3/8-1/2″ cubes. One per meatball and you’re going to get 12-14 meatballs at the end of the day.
Next, in a big bowl, combine the lot – 1 pound of ground beef, 1/2c Italian breadcrumbs. 1tbsp garlic, 1/2tsp pepper, a pinch of salt, 1/8tsp nutmeg. 1/4tsp rosemary, 1tbsp Balsamic vinegar, and 1tsp oregano. It sounds like a lot, but each little friend plays an important role.
Knead the meat mix until everything is incorporated evenly. It will literally feel like dough at this point.
And, now that *that’s* done, it’s time to make meatballs. Grab a hunk of mix and form it into a roughly 1″ diameter ball. Take one of the mozzarella cubes and press it into the center. Reform the ball and put it on a piece of wax paper or equally non-sticky surface. Repeat until all the meat mix is gone. You should have 12-14 meatballs at this point.
Which means, it’s time for the magic. Do a wash breading – take three bowls, and in the first put 1/4c flour. In the second, two beated eggs, and the third equal parts panko and grated parmesan. Dredge each meatball in the flour, then the egg, and then the panko mix and set aside until you’re ready to fry.
Fry in batches – Fill the basket but don’t crowd – for 4 minutes at a time, and set each batch on paper towels to take up any excess oil.
Serve 2-3 on a plate with that pasta sauce you were dealing with earlier.
So, we’re going to say serves 4-5, depending on 2-3 meatballs each.
And, the shopping list:
- vegetable oil (~1gal if you have a fryer)
- ground beef
- mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese (the stringy grated kind)
- Italian breadcrumbs
- rosemary (dried is okay)
- oregano (dried is okay here too)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Some kind of pasta sauce