Sunday, 27 April 2014

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs and all things spherical

You can't beat a meatball- or a meatless ball- for a quick supper, a cheap filler, a crowd pleaser, a party favourite or even a sophisticated starter.

Whether you use pork, beef, turkey, lamb, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, rice or cheese- these little round parcels of tastiness hit the spot. They crop up in every cuisine- Asian, North African, Middle Eastern and Western- and everyone has their own version and favourites.

So, this week I've been cooking meatballs for supper- but also looking back at other dishes which are all-round pleasers.

Mozzarella stuffed Meatballs


350g beef mince
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped herbs eg. thyme, parsley or chives
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 ball mozzarella

1. Begin by mixing the beef mince, egg, breadcrumbs, herbs and a generous pich of salt and pepper together using wet hands until you have a homogenous mixture.
2. Wet your hands again and roll the mixture into 12 meatballs and place in the fridge to chill for 15-20 mins or more.
3. Slice the mozzarella into twelve little pieces.
4. Make a dent in the centre of the meatball with your thumb and place the mozzarella in the hollow.

5. Close the meatball back up again around the cheese (wet hands help to make it sticky)
6. Fry gently in a hot frying pan with a spritz of oil.

Tomato butter sauce:

1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 small onion diced finely
1 clove of garlic minced finely
1 teaspoon each of balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
10 g of butter

1. Gently fry the onion and garlic together until translucent.
2. Add all the other ingredients except the butter and bubble away for a while until beginning to thicken
3. Mix in the butter and adjust seasoning to taste.

I served the vegetables with roasted vegetable couscous and the tomato butter sauce.
Roasted vegetable couscous

When you're cooking for a crowd, I turn to pasta to help me out- and a meatball pasta bake can feed a dozen without stretching the purse strings at all:

Meatball Pasta bake

And if you are cooking for a children's party, meatballs make a good bite-sized treat. Season lightly to suit younger palates- but provide some tasty dipping sauces to jazz them up. My 'Angry Birds' in a noodle nest will go down well. You can make them look cuter of course- but mine turned out more Freddie Krueger than Orville:

Magpie meatballs in a noodle nest
Loads of lovely meatballs from lots of other clever bloggers on that link above.

This tasty meat mixture was actually the first recipe I posted on the blog more than 2 years ago- in the form of a burger sitting in a garlic mushroom cup. You could say it was the mothership of all my ideas since:
Burger in a garlic mushroom cup
As I said at the start, all cuisines seem to feature meatballs- be they falafel, kofta, kebabs or burgers. I've played around with spicy pork parcels:

Asian pork parcels

And with lamb patties and flatbreads:

Lamb patties with home made pitta bread

And some vegetarian options like falafel :

And it's squished down sister- the sweet potato burger:

Sweet potato and carrot falafel-burger

And for a more sophisticated spherical look, what about arancini ( leftover risotto fried into balls):

Arancini with dipping sauce

And finally, if we're talking trendy, what about cake pops? They're round, and- if they're savoury- they're very now. Here's mine:

Brie cake pops with cranberry relish

So, we've gone around the world in 10 different, well, round things. What's your favourite meat or non-meat ball?

Let me know.

We can have a reader's round-up.

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