Baked melting mozzarella stuffed nduja meatballs

Like meatballs? Like melting cheese? Yes, of course you do! You’d be mad not to! Well this is your ticket to an easy, crowd pleasing dinner. I try to use the best quality mince I can as you really do taste the difference compared to cheaper ones on offer. This recipe calls for a mixture of beef and veal mince but you can use one variety if you prefer. Veal mince keeps the meatballs moist and it is worth a try if you have not tried it before. It has a more subtle flavour than beef and I also love using it in spaghetti bolognese.

Now this is not the first time I have used nduja in recipes on this blog and it certainly won’t be the last. This soft, spicy Calabrian beauty’s popularity has risen over the last few years and is now readily available in delis and supermarkets. The lovely people at Duchy Charcuterie very kindly sent me some of their award winning nduja to try and I was smitten. Compared to some other ndujas I have cooked with in the past, this one is more mellow but still packed with flavour. You can find out more about the nduja from Duchy Charcuterie from marc@duchycharcuterie.co.uk.

Red pepper and nduja are a match made in heaven so I have laced the tomato sauce with roasted pepper. The ready roasted jarred peppers are always in my cupboard on hand and are perfect for a quick fix. They soften into the sauce beautifully but of course can be substituted with fresh red peppers if you like.

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Ingredients- serves 4
200g beef mince
200g veal mince
Salt and pepper to season
2 mozzarella balls- cut into small chunks
2 tbsp nduja
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
3 jarred roasted red peppers- sliced
Handful of freshly torn basil to finish- optional

1. Kick off by choosing the correct pan that can be used to fry off the meatballs and that is suitable for popping in the oven- purely a washing up saving device! Get started by making the meatballs and this can be done in advance. Take the two types of mince and add the nduja into it; season well. Some nduja is more solid than others so I tend to pinch small pieces off and then distribute through the mince mixture. Squish together well to bring the mixture together- the meat will bind after a bit of working and that’s when it is ready to shape so it holds. I find that using egg to bind mince can result in a stodgy meatball but trust me that these will still keep their shape! You are after meatballs which are slightly larger than a golf ball. Take the mince, flatten it in the palm of your hand and then pop a cube of mozzarella in the middle before wrapping the mince around it. Repeat until all the mince has been used. Make sure the cheese is well wrapped as you don’t want it oozing out. Pop the balls on a tray and chill until you’re ready to cook.

2. Take the pan of choice and add a glug of olive oil. Heat to medium and take the meatballs in batches and fry until golden on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside whilst you make the tomato and red pepper sauce. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan in preparation.

3. If there is a lot of fat from the mince then drain some off to leave about a tablespoon of it. Don’t throw it all away as it is full of flavour! Over a medium heat, add the onion and cook until softening. As garlic cooks more quickly, add this in a minute or two before the onion is done. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and sliced roasted red pepper and bring to a simmer. If using fresh peppers you may like to add the pepper in first and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes.

4. Add the golden meatballs back to the pan and arrange so they are not all crammed in and they have space between. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked and the sauce is nicely reduced. Finish with some roughly torn basil if you like and serve. These meatballs are as delicious with pasta as they are with a hunk of bread so it’s up to you!

Baked melting middle nduja meatballs- pimp up your midweek dinner!

 

 

 

Spiced kefta tagine

You just can’t beat a hearty helping of meatballs so read on for a Middle Eastern twist! The meatballs should be gently spiced and you should be able to taste each spice so don’t be tempted to go crazy! Any leftovers (if there are any!) are perfect reheated and served in a pitta bread with salad and yogurt sauce. I used a normal harissa in the tomato sauce however if you prefer less of a kick then rose harissa can be substituted which is sweeter.

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the meatballs
400g lamb mince
1 small red onion- finely chopped
3tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
Handful of flat leaf parsley- chopped
Salt and pepper to season

For the sauce:
1/2 red onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- chopped
2 tbsp harissa
2 tins chopped tomatoes
150ml lamb stock
2-3 jarred roasted red peppers- sliced (optional)
2 handfuls of baby spinach- washed and chopped (optional)

1. Get going by combining all the meatball ingredients. I don’t use egg or breadcrumb to bind it all as, if you work on the mince enough, the balls should hold together anyway. Squidge the mince around in a bowl before shaping into balls which should be about the size of a golf ball. Place on a baking sheet and pop in the fridge to chill for around half an hour.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180c/160fan. Take a large, wide based pan (or tagine if you have one) and heat a splash of oil over a medium heat in your pan of choice. Gently fry off the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding the harissa, tomatoes and stock and stir well. Pop the red peppers in at this stage if you are using them. Lower to a simmer whilst you grab a frying pan and brown off the meatballs. You need the meat to brown on all sides and you may need to do this in batches- don’t overcrowd the pan! When they are browned and the sauce has started off, simply drop the balls into the sauce and bring back up to a simmer.

3. Cover the meatball pan and cook in the oven for 45 minutes until the sauce is reduced and the meatballs are cooked through. Jiggle the meatballs in the pan from time to time! I like to also stir through some spinach towards the end of cooking to add a little something (and spinach is also a love of mine so any excuse!).

Serve with warmed bread or cous cous and enjoy! A spoonful of a cooling yogurt and mint sauce is also delicious too!