A Southern Grace: the ooey-gooey factor

March 23, 2017

the ooey-gooey factor


Mozzarella meatball bake. It's no secret that I have very strong, often very strange preferences when it comes to food. I think I confound my husband just about every day in that way.

For example, I will not eat canned corn. I have no use for rice. I put ice in my cereal milk. I do not like cold cheese. Warm, gooey, melty cheese, on the other hand, is something for which I would climb mountains.

Meatballs with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese is pretty much the epitome of comfort food in our house. For this batch of balls, I lightened things up a bit by using half ground chicken and half ground pork. That piggy flavor is still there, and though they are nowhere near as greasy as some meatballs, they still retain a wonderful level of moistness.

I like to brown my meatballs first on top of the stove, then bake them in the oven until they're fully cooked. Combining them with some homemade marinara sauce and topping everything with a thick layer of mozzarella cheese before baking is the step that brings the real comfort! When the cheese reaches that melty, ooey-gooey point, you're good to go.

What is it about a long pull of cheese that ignites my saliva glands? I wish I knew, because it gets me every time. Whether it's happening on a slice of pizza, a grilled cheese sandwich, or a huge square of lasagna, I'm ready to devour that cheese as soon as possible. Cold cheese just doesn't have that same appeal to me, but to each her own!

Incidentally, hardly anything freezes as well as meatballs, so I fully intend to stock my freezer with them before this baby arrives! Any other suggestions for freezer meals?

Mozzarella Meatball Medley
(printable recipe)
Makes about 20 meatballs, which easily fill 10-inch skillet or 4-quart baking dish
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, plus more for baking
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 batch marinara sauce of your choice or 1-2 jars of store bought
  • 1 (8-ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese (more or less as you see fit!)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place an oven-proof skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with olive oil.
In a small mixing bowl, mix breadcrumbs and milk. Set aside until soaked through, then break it up really well with a fork or your fingers.
Mix ground meats, breadcrumb mixture, Parmesan cheese, seasoning, eggs, salt, and pepper, by hand until well combined.
Eyeball and form golf ball-sized meatballs with your hands, or use a cookie scoop to help portion.
Cook the meatballs in the hot skillet until browned all over, turning often. This will take around 10 minutes.
Pour 1/2-1 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of the skillet or a greased glass dish and spread to cover.
Place meatballs on the sauce in a single layer.
Pour remaining marinara sauce over the top of the meatballs, then sprinkle shredded cheese over the top, so all the meatballs are covered in cheese.
Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
Cover skillet with a piece of foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and bake, uncovered, for another 20 minutes, until the meatballs are around 155-160 degrees F.
If desired, broil the dish for a minute or two after baking to brown the cheese.
Garnish with fresh basil and parsley if desired.

Leftovers make a great sub.


Amy (Savory Moments) said...

These look delicious - I love a good pull of hot cheese as well. It's so satisfying. We intended to do freezer meals, and it just never happened lol.

Angie's Recipes said...

I can't turn down anything with cheese! This looks insanely delicious and comforting.

Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen said...

Ooohhh that cheese on top. . .yum! Freezer meals are just the best thing EVER!

Juliana said...

Yes, these meatballs are calling for me...more so since they are topped with lots of cheese...and I love the idea of using the leftover, if any...for next day sub.
I hope you are having a great week Grace :)

Alicia Foodycat said...

I love cheese in any form - but melty is the best.

Marjie said...

Meatballs and mozzarella are the best. You can put them in a grinder roll, on top of spaghetti (cue the schoolyard song) or just eat them. For freezer meals, chili, stew, chicken all work well. I have a food sealer and put a couple of servings in the bag and seal them. Then they can just be thawed in cool water before reheating, or, depending on the food, just cooked "boil-in-bag" style!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Mmmm pure comfort food! It has been raining here for about 2 weeks now and that makes it perfect rainy day food! :D

Adina said...

I've just eaten but I would not say no to some of your meatballs. :)

Gingi said...

OMG, WANT WANT WANT!!!! This looks AMAZING!!! - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Barbara said...

Oh my...that photo of the meatball on a spoon. YUM! Bring on the melted cheese...it makes everything even better. My dad once said to me (when I had made a casserole of some kind): "is there anything under the cheese?"

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

Hmm.. Ice in cereal milk? I guess I can't knock it til I try it!
I certainly wouldn't knock these meatballs. Fabulous!

cakespy said...

OMG, this sounds so delicious. That gooey cheese! I am experiencing a craving of the hundredth degree.

Food Gal said...

Melty, gooey mozzarella is always hard to resist. Heck, I could eat it just plain like that, it's so divine.

Pamela @BrooklynFarmGirl said...

Melted cheese just makes everything 1000 times better ��

Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder said...

your food quirks are weirder than mine haha (which already confounds my husband)