Meatball & Mozzarella Bake

Standard

IMG_20160409_130649[1] 09/04/2016

You can’t plate this up politely. The cheesy topping goes deliciously gooey and stringy so just put it in the middle of the table with a salad and loads of crusty garlic bread and let everyone wrestle out a portion.

The sauce is delicately flavoured with paprika and the tiniest bit of chilli heat which mellows as it bakes to give a wonderful depth of flavour. Teamed with oozing cheese and chunky veg, this is a real luxurious meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 250g lean beef mince
  • 250g lean pork mince
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Milk

For the sauce:

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 200g mozzarella (Block form), grated
  • 100g mascarpone
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method:

  1. For the meatballs: Put the onion, beef and pork mince, breadcrumbs, fennel, oregano, smoked paprika, garlic and plenty of seasoning into a bowl. Add a splash of milk to soak up the breadcrumbs and combine. Shape into 20 meatballs. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches. Once browned, set aside on a plate.
  2. For the sauce: Add the chopped onions to the pan with another Tbsp oil. Fry gently until soft then add the garlic, pepper and chilli and fry for another couple of minutes.
  3. Add the passata, smoked paprika and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble gently for 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
  4. Add the meatballs back to the sauce.
  5. Mix 150g of the grated mozzarella with the mascarpone and a little seasoning. Spoon the cheesy mix over the meatballs in dollops and scatter over the remaining mozzarella.
  6. Heat the oven to 190C. Bake for 30 minutes until the meatballs are piping hot and cooked through and the cheesy top is golden and bubbling. Let the dish cool for 5 minutes before spooning into nice large bowls and diving in with some crusty garlic bread.

IMG_20160409_130410[1]

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