Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Meatballs a la Pizzaiola
Have you recently watched one of Giada's shows on the Food Network? She always looks beautiful, and she always makes food that sounds so delicious. One thing that doesn't sound so great to us, however, is her pronunciation of Italian words. Let's be honest. It's annoying. I have her cookware and her food processor from Target, but I roll my eyes when I hear her say mozzarella. Or, if you hear Buck imitate her, MOZZZAREELLLLLLA. She's a wee bit ridiculous.
Anyway, we made these very good meatballs with some pasta (PASta) and a side of marinara sauce. You could do these as a hearty appetizer or with spaghetti. (spaGHEtti) Next time, I'd either bake them on a rack over a baking sheet (so some of the fat will drip out) or just pan fry them entirely (so they will develop a good crust). The half and half that I did wasn't strong. I also used 1 1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes, and they were just a little spicy; you can adjust the seasoning to your liking.
During our Italian lesson with Giada, we learned that the title of this dish means that they're meatballs with all the flavors from a pizzeria: sundried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, not to mention the little cube of mozzarella in the middle. They didn't especially taste pizza-flavored to us, but they were very good either way. The recipe below makes a whopping 3 dozen meatballs, so cut the recipe to make it suit your needs.
Meatballs a la Pizzaiola
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained (5 or 6)
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds 20-percent fat ground beef
1 pound ground pork
6 ounces smoked mozzarella, cut into 36 (1/2-inch) cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cups marinara sauce, warmed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside. In a food processor, pulse together the shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and salt. Process until blended. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef and pork and, using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Form the mixture into 36 equal-size meatballs (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Insert 1 cube smoked mozzarella cheese into the center of each meatball and form the meat around it, completely enclosing the cheese.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat half the oil over medium heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining oil and meatballs. Place the browned meatballs onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes for medium doneness. Set aside to cool slightly, and serve with warm marinara sauce