Super soft cheese stuffed meatballs are the most loved recipe by all the families. These delicious and moist round-shaped beef meatballs have smokey cheese and mortadella salami hearts and are served with a delicate sweet tomatoes sauce. A perfect excuse to dip your slice of bread into it. Right?
Why you’ll love it
- Cheesy heart with a yummy mortadella salami;
- Great make-ahead recipe;
- Ideal for freezing;
- Perfect as a family meal;
These tasty cheese stuffed meatballs are a revision of my mamma’s best classic polpette recipe. What makes these meatballs so tasty is the flavoring mix made by garlic, grated lemon peel, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, parsley, egg, and the soft crumbs soaked in the milk for a few minutes. Most recipes use dry breadcrumbs but I find that soaking the soft crumbs into the milk for a few minutes gives them more moisture. Furthermore, the presence of the mortadella salami and the smokey scarmorza cheese make them even more scrumptious.
The cooking method involves the use of just one frying pan, creating a stewed process that allows the cheese-stuffed meatballs to stay moist. Also, all the flavors from the sautéed onion, the juices released from the meatballs, and the flavor of the tomatoes remain together creating a delicious taste. Also, if you are looking for a pasta dish to go with this cheese-stuffed meatballs recipe try this scrumptious amatriciana bucatini.
The ingredients used to make this cheese-stuffed meatballs recipe are easily available in the stores, and some of them may already be in your pantry and fridge.
Meat- use ground beef with 12% of fat.
Egg- use one medium-free range egg. The egg gives moisture to the meatballs.
Crumbs- use just the soft crumbs from the slices of the bread. However don’t throw the crust, use it to make breadcrumbs.
Milk- use it to soak the crumbs and to make the meatballs even moister.
Cheese- grated Parmigiano Reggiano adds flavor to the beef. While for stuffing the meatballs use a smoked scarmoza cheese cut it into dice. The smoked scamorza is mozzarella cheese that has aged for 1 or 3 weeks.
Lemon- use unwaxed grated lemon zest to give a hint of lemon.
Herb- use the chopped fresh leaves of flat Italian parsley.
Garlic- add to the ground beef chopped garlic.
Salami- mortadella salami is a cooked cured pork meat with beautiful pink color and a delicate taste. Here it is used to stuff the meatballs and stays soft during the cooking, unlike the Parma Ham that dries out.
Flour– use it to coat the meatballs and to hold the round shape.
Oil- prefer extra virgin olive oil. It is the best choice to use for any Italian dish. Not to mention that it is a fabulous superfood.
Tomatoes- use canned sweet Italian cherry tomatoes and the Italian tomato passata.
Onion- it is cut finely and then sautéed in olive oil until golden.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTION*
*Note: this is just a quick introduction. Please read the recipe card for the full instructions.
This dish is very easy to assemble and all work is divided into three steps; mixing, shaping, and cooking. In just a few steps, you’ll have spectacular cheese stuffed meatballs far better than the ready ones that you can find in the stores. Trust me, you’ll never buy them again.
Soak the crumbs into a small bowl, add the milk and let it absorb for 5 minutes. Stir with a spoon every now and then.
Add the ground mince beef, chopped garlic, salt, ground black peppercorn, chopped parsley, grated lemon zest, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and the egg into a medium bowl and set aside. Squeez* slightly the crumbs and add them to the ground mince beef.
*Tip: do not waste the milk, I suggest you wash your hand with water and soap before squeezing the crumbs. This way, it can be stored back in the fridge for the next use.
Mix all the ground beef with your clean hands until well combined.
Form 13 balls of 60 gr weight each by rolling it into your hands. Set them aside into a tray.
Press the center of each meatball with your finger creating a hole. Place inside the hole a piece of smoked scamorza cheese and a piece of mortadella salami.
Fold the sides of the cheese-stuffed meatballs using your finger. Then, shape the meatballs into some balls with your hand.
Coat each meatball with the flour and place them in a tray. Set it aside.
Add the olive oil and the onion into a medium frying pan and sauté for 13 minutes on medium heat until golden. Add very carefully the meatballs and let them brown properly on medium heat for 6 minutes. Turn each meatball to the other side with the help of a fork and spoon, let them brown well*.
*Note: you want the meatballs to have a brown crust, this means more flavor to the dish.
Pour the cherry tomatoes, the passata, and the salt into the frying pan. Let it cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. Make sure to stir the sauce and turn the meatballs every now and then. Serve immediately with plenty of bread.
If some ingredients are not available or in case you want to make some changes I listed some variations below.
Cheese– the smoked scamorza cheese can be found in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Wholefoods, or in any Italian grocery shop. It can be replaced by mozzarella cheese, gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, Emmental cheese, or provolone cheese.
Salami– the mortadella salami can also be found in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Wholefoods, or in any Italian grocery shop. However, you can use any cured ham or Italian prosciutto cotto. Also, if you live in the USA, an alternative would be to use Bologna sausage.
Crumb- a good variation is to use just the crumb of the stale bread. Since the stale bread weighs less, I suggest you use 20 gr more of it. Also, let it soak in the milk for longer.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is it better to bake or fry meatballs?
I wouldn’t suggest baking the meatballs in the oven as they may turn dry and you will lose all the juice of the meat. On the other hand, frying or browning it will make sure that you have all the juices of the ingredients are mixing in the same pan creating a better flavor. Furthermore, Italians cook their stewed meatballs in tomato sauce as suggested in this recipe.
Can I make it in advance?
Yes, of course. You can easily shape and stuff them the day before and store them in a tray or on a plate covered with some cling film in the fridge. The next day shape them again into balls and carry on with the recipe.
How to store the leftover?
Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Otherwise, freeze the meatballs in a container with a lid. When needed defrost it for 12 hours in the fridge and then warm it up in a frying pan adding some water.
MORE DELICIOUS RECIPE YOU MIGHT LIKE
Cheese stuffed meatballs recipe with mortadella
- 1 Chopping board
- 1 Chopping Knife
- 1 Medium Bowl
- 1 Small bowl
- 1 Medium non-stick frying pan
- 1 Fork and spoon
- 90 gr fresh crumbs no bread crust
- 240 gr cold whole milk
- 500 gr ground beef 12% of fat
- ½ tsp maldon salt
- 1 pinch ground black peppercorn
- 1 garlic clove chopped finely
- 20 gr grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 20 gr Italian flat parsley chopped leaves
- 1 whole unwaxed lemon zest grated
- 1 medium egg room temperature
- 66 gr smoked scamorza cheese
- 30 gr mortadella salami
- 30 gr plain flour
- 60 gr onion chopped finely
- 2 ½ tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 400 gr Italian Cherry Tomatoes tinned
- 140 gr Italian passata
- ½ tsp maldon salt
- Divide the crumbs into pieces and place them into a medium bowl. Pour the milk over let it absorb for 5 minutes. Stir with a spoon every now and then.
- Add the ground mince beef, chopped garlic, salt, ground black peppercorn, chopped parsley, grated lemon zest, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and the egg into a medium bowl. Set it aside.
- Do not waste the milk, I suggest you wash your hand with water and soap before squeezing the crumbs. This way, it can be stored back in the fridge for the next use. Squeez slightly the crumbs to remove excess of the milk.
- Add the squeezed crumbs into the beef and mix all until well combined. Form 13 balls of 60 gr weight each by rolling it into your hands. Set them aside into a tray.
- Cut the mortadella and the scamorza cheese into 13 cubes on a chopping board. Press the center of each meatball with your finger creating a hole. Place inside a piece of smoked scamorza cheese and a piece of mortadella salami.
- Fold the sides of the cheese-stuffed meatballs using your finger. Then, shape the meatballs into some balls with your hands. Coat each meatball with the flour and place it in a tray. Set it aside.
Sauté and tomato sauce
- Add the olive oil and the chopped onion into a medium frying pan and sauté for 13 minutes on medium heat until golden.
- Add very carefully the meatballs and let them brown properly on medium heat for 6 minutes. Turn each meatball to the other side with the help of a fork and spoon, and let them brown well for 4 minutes. You want the meatballs to have a brown crust, this means more flavor to the dish.
- Pour the cherry tomatoes, the passata, and the salt into the frying pan. Let it cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. Make sure to stir the sauce and turn the meatballs every now and then. Serve immediately with plenty of bread.