Meatballs a la Pizzaiola
- 8 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 1/4 cup (5 to 6) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80% lean)
- 1 pound ground pork
- Olive oil, for frying
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Marinara sauce, warmed, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Dice the smoked mozzarella into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, shredded mozzarella, parmesan, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until blended. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef and pork and, using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until combined. Form into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs. Insert 1 cube smoked mozzarella into the center of each meatball and form the meat around it, enclosing the cheese.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour equal parts olive oil and vegetable oil to fill the pan halfway. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 350 degrees F. In batches, fry the meatballs until dark brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Place the fried meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Put in the oven and bake until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly, then serve immediately with marinara sauce, if desired.
Photograph by Joseph DeLeo
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