Mozzarella meatballs are small balls of ground meat that have been spiced or mixed with other ingredients and then stuffed with a small amount of mozzarella cheese. The meatballs can be prepared in a traditional Italian style with spices such as parsley, oregano and breadcrumbs, and then slowly cooked in tomato sauce until done. They also can be made with nutmeg, allspice and onions and served in brown gravy with egg noodles. The mozzarella cheese on the inside of the meatball provides a subtle, cheesy flavor that is usually neutral enough to go well with nearly any savory dish.
The type of mozzarella cheese used to make mozzarella meatballs can have some effect on the finished product. The meatballs will take time to cook, so a mozzarella cheese that is very watery might melt so quickly that it will actually begin to leak out of the meatballs, leaving them partly empty in a puddle of cheese. One way this can be avoided is to use a low-moisture mozzarella so it will melt yet remain a little thicker. Buffalo mozzarella, smoked mozzarella and many commercially produced and packaged mozzarellas have a low amount of moisture.
The type of meat used to make mozzarella meatballs depends only on the tastes of the cook. Beef or beef and pork are the traditional choice. These meats can be complemented with a small amount of veal, as well. Turkey or chicken can be used, although they will have a slightly shorter cooking time and a less meaty taste. Using pre-spiced meat such as Italian sausage can work very well when smoked mozzarella is being used, so it can counteract the sometimes strong smoky flavor.
Many recipes for meatballs use binders and other ingredients to help keep the meat together while it cooks. This can be beneficial for mozzarella meatballs, because it will help to form a wall that expands as the meat bakes, locking most of the mozzarella inside. Soaked breadcrumbs or soaked shreds of bread are a popular choice. An egg also can help to form a solid meatball that will keep its shape while it cooks.
The actual process of making mozzarella meatballs is fairly simple. Once the meat, spices and other ingredients are mixed together, a loose ball is formed in the hands. A small piece of mozzarella cheese is pushed into the meatball, and the sides are taken up to form the ball tightly around the cheese. They can be cooked in slowly simmering tomato sauce, baked on a sheet in an oven, or fried in a pan so they develop a crisp crust. Some cheese will inevitably leak out of the meatballs, but once it leaked cheese cools a little, it can be picked up and served with the meatballs.