Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Meatballs Stuffed with Smoked Gouda in a Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette

  I know, sounds fancy.  But they aren't too terribly hard.  Time consuming yes.  It will take a while to form all the meatballs.  Especially if you make a full batch of these.  Luckily, the recipe is easy to pare down.  And there is no need to wait for a party to make these mini meatballs.  Make them regular sized and shake up spaghetti night!  It's really just a technique.  Try out different cheeses, different sauces, make them with just the turkey sausage, or with ground chicken... the possibilities may not be endless, but there are a lot of them.

   I am sort of obsessed with these.  I made them about a month ago for a neighbor's going away party.  (Which I didn't even attend by the way... I was invited by the hosts, and then my parents uninvited me!)  I already had them planned for the hafla, but I really wanted to test them out.  It was the perfect excuse!  I found that using just smoked gouda wasn't the greatest because it doesn't melt that well inside of the meatballs when they are cooked.  So for last Saturday I added in little mozzarella pearls.  The texture of the mozzarella is nice and you still get a hint of smokiness from the gouda.  I really wanted to use smoked mozzarella as the only cheese from the very beginning but it was magically no where to be found when it came time to make them.

   The vinaigrette is really easy; I sort of cheated when I found sundried tomato pesto on sale.  I simply added a couple things.  If you don't have both vinegars, use all of one kind.  I personally think the mix gives the best balance of flavor and tanginess.  Try it over salads or grilled/roasted veggies.  Or just toss it with some pasta and the meatballs!
Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette
4 Tbsp sundried tomato pesto
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

   Combine ingredients.  (Total no-brainer!)

Mini Meatballs Stuffed with Smoked Gouda and Mozzarella
1 1/2 lb ground beef (85/15 worked best for me, if you can find it)
3 links (~1/2 lb) hot Italian turkey sausage (casing removed)
1 egg
6 Tbsp bread crumbs
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
8 oz mozzarella pearls (these are very small, quarter bocconcini if you can't find the pearls
4 oz smoked gouda, diced (1/4 in sq cubes)
salt and pepper

   In a large bowl, thoroughly combine egg, parmesan, bread crumbs, herbs, and pepper flakes.  Add meat.  Gently break up meat with a fork and fold into bread crumb mixture.  Salt and pepper.  Use hands to finish mixing.  (Now would be a good time to cook a little patty to see if it seasoned properly.)
   Take a rounded teaspoon of the meat.  Flatten it in your palm to form a roughly 2 in circle.  Add one mozzarella pearl and one piece of the smoked gouda.  Carefully fold the meat around the cheeses.  Roll in your palms to form the meat ball.  Repeat (about 50 times.....)
   Bake at 370 deg F for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.
   Pan fry over medium heat in a little oil for 8-10 minutes, until cooked through.  (Don't worry if the cheese oozes out a bit; it will just let your guests know that there is a cheese inside!)
   While hot, toss with the vinaigrette.  Serve immediately or allow to cool to room temperature.  (Or I don't see any reason you couldn't keep them warm in a crock pot!)
   Makes about 5 dozen mini meatballs

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