There are some things in life that just go together. Peanut butter and chocolate, me and puppies, and of course, meat and cheese. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that this recipe includes cheese, but hey, you’re reading it so you must be on my cheese level.
My dad taught me about the genius of stuffing the cheese inside the meat, especially in hamburgers, so I chose to make it Italian and go for meatballs. Definitely a good choice. These little spheres of joy are absolutely delicious, and when you pair them with homemade sauce, it’s magical.
Preheat your oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with foil, and give a good layer of non-stick cooking spray.
Make your sauce first, so it has time to simmer while the meatballs are cooking. This is the most fun part of the entire process. Dump your can of whole tomatoes in a medium sized bowl, and get to squishing. Be careful not to squeeze too hard or you’ll end up with tomato juice everywhere (I speak from experience here.) Crush those ‘maters until you’re left with just juice, and maybe a few pieces here and there, depending how you like your sauce.
Carefully pour them into a large sauce pan (again, being careful of the splatter) and sprinkle in your salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. I tossed in a pinch of minced garlic just for fun. I personally like my tomato sauce a little thicker so I add in one small can of tomato paste, just for texture. It’s pretty thick so it may take a little while till everything blends together, so be patient and stir consistently. This can sit on low heat for quite a while.
Now for the meat. I started with ½ a pound of ground sirloin, knowing I was only cooking for two. This is a pretty scalable amount, depending on how many people you’re feeding. As for the cheese, my dad recommended provolone and he was totally right (it really helps if you have a dad who is a chef, like I do.) I suggest cutting the cheese (teehee) into half inch chunks. The bigger the piece of cheese, the larger your meatball will have to be to surround it, so keep that in mind.
Mix your meat with one egg and a ¼ cup of Italian flavored breadcrumbs, and when I say mix, I mean with your hands. Yeah, you’re gonna get a little dirty. Make sure everything is evenly mixed and take off a chunk a little bigger than a golf ball. Roll it up all nice and pretty, and then flatten it to a thick patty. Gently place that piece of cheese in the middle and seal up the meat around it.
Do this until all the meat is gone– I ended up with 7 normal sized balls and one runt. Place them evenly apart on the tray and put those bad boys in the oven.
I set my timer for 15 minutes and checked on them about every 5. The meat is pretty thin so they’ll cook fairly quickly. They’re done when you see the cheese oozing out and the outside is completely brown. You can cut into one just to make sure, since no one wants to eat raw meat. When they’re completely cooked, take them out and put them in the warm pot of sauce. You want them to soak up some of that tomatoey goodness.
When the meatballs are halfway, start your pot of water for the pasta. It should time out so that you’re putting the pasta in when the meatballs are done. I go with thin spaghetti or angel hair, but feel free to explore noodle options. Once your pasta is perfect and al dente, get yourself a good helping of sauce and meatballs, pile on a nice portion of parmesan cheese, and bravo! You have a lovely Italian meal.
INGREDIENTS |makes 7-8 meatballs
1 can, whole tomatoes
1 small can, tomato paste
½ pound ground sirloin
¼ cup italian breadcrumbs
1 box, angel hair pasta
¼ pound, provolone cheese (in block form)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and line baking sheet with foil, then spray evenly with non-stick cooking spray.
Cut cheese into ½ inch sized chunks.
In a medium sized bowl, crush whole tomatoes. Pour into saucepan and combine with tomato paste, salt, pepper, minced garlic, garlic powder and oregano. Turn on medium-low heat, and stir occasionally.
In another medium sized bowl, combine meat, egg and breadcrumbs, mixing until smooth.
Roll a golfball sized ball, and flatten in one hand. Place cheese cube onto patty and form meat around the cheese to make a sealed meatball. Repeat until meat is gone.
Place on baking sheet and put in the oven for 15 minutes. Check every 5 minutes.
Fill medium pot with water and boil. Once boiling, Toss in pasta (you can make the whole box and just have leftovers.)
Meatballs are done when the cheese is oozing and the inside is no longer pink. Toss them in with the sauce and simmer for a few minutes.
Drain pasta, top with sauce, meatballs and parmesan cheese.