Goat cheese stuffed meatball marinara

When I was a kid, I loved playing with my food. I would take hours to eat each meal, drawing shapes on the plate with my finger. I would write my name, erase it, re-write it, swirl in some liquid, build mounds with the rice, and create fake volcanoes by creating small craters in the rice and filling them with yogurt. Anything to avoid eating. I hated mealtime. Can you imagine? Given the food fatty I am now? With my food-crusted hands, skinny legs dangling over the edge of the seat, and a glum expression, I wished I could get up and leave. But then, I'd get distracted and start making little ball shapes with the rice or pieces of idli mushed together. That was bad table manners.

Fast forward 20 some years, and here I am, as an adult, allowed to play with food and even be appreciated for it. Of course, I'm talking about meatballs. The messier a food is, the tastier it is. Think about it. Poached eggs, barbecue, tacos, Indian food. Messy, messy, messy, messy. Meatballs are no exception. They may not be messy to eat, but you have to get your hands in there to season and mix the meat. I can finally re-live my childhood dreams of creating balls out of food and be called a chef on top of that to boot :)

I came up with this recipe because I had some beef sitting in the fridge and I was bored of making kheema over and over again. Don't get me wrong, that kheema is one of my proven no-fail recipes which tastes 95% identical each time I make it. I can't say that for the majority of my meals, since I am not a precise cook (aka, not a baker). But, I was craving something different and needed something to do while nervously watching the Sochi Winter Olympics.

I'll go ahead and say that these are the yummiest things I've ever made. Is that bold? Well it's true. Wishing I was closer to friends and family so they could've tried this one. A repeat recipe for sure.

Ingredients:

Beef + seasonings:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 4-5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp mustard
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp chipotle chili sauce (good change from Sriracha)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz herbed goat cheese
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Marinara sauce
  • 1 box pasta, any shape

Prep:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine ground beef with all the seasoning ingredients. Roll into balls and make a little dimple in each one (so cute!). Stuff with a little goat cheese, pinch the balls shut (too many jokes), and roll each meatball in the Panko. Place the meatballs in a baking dish lined with foil. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Then turn up the heat to 450 degrees and bake for an additional 5 minutes to develop a nice panko crust on the meatballs. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions and heat up some pre-made marinara sauce of your choosing. To assemble, place the pasta on a plate and pour on a ladle of marinara. Place the meatballs on top of the sauce and garnish with cilantro. Serve hot.