You can make this new spin on a restaurant classic at home in only 20 minutes
Mozzarella Balls (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
You don’t need an expensive new piece of equipment, or an obscure ingredient you have to hunt for. You just need a fresh way of preparing an old favorite. In “One Way,” we’ll revisit classic ingredients and dishes, giving them a new twist with an easy technique you haven’t tried before.
Fried mozzarella is always a good idea.
When my kids were younger, our go-to special night out place was the neighborhood Irish bar, which featured a jukebox full of U2 songs and a menu of burgers, fries and mozzarella sticks. A few years ago, the place changed hands and got an upscale makeover — and I’m still not over it.
RELATED: It’s almost too easy to make hot, fresh, fried onion rings
Fortunately — as I keep telling you — it’s really not hard to fry stuff at home. And once you discover that nothing compares to the flavor and crunch of hot, freshly fried food right out of the pan, those soggy mozzarella sticks from your local pizza place just won’t cut it.
You can buy regular, low-moisture supermarket mozzarella, cube it up and fry it pretty effortlessly any night of the week. But there’s something really cute — and really tempting — about those little cheese balls known as bocconcini. Round stuff is just fun.
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It’s true that fried mozzarella balls aren’t the kind of “shove it on a sheet pan and forget about it” situation that makes cooking truly effortless. You do have to keep a close eye on these tiny guys.
Thus, if you’re not making these as a stand-alone snack, I encourage you to round out the rest of the meal in a more hands-off way. I made these for dinner this week with a Caesar salad kit, and it was incredibly good and completely satisfying.
Also, I promise that no one complains when fried cheese is what’s for dinner. Though I still miss my old neighborhood bar, at least at home I can have fried cheese with no U2, any time I want.
Recipe: Fried Mozzarella Balls
Inspired by Down Home with the Neelys and Happy Foods Tube
- 1 16-ounce bottle vegetable oil
- 1 8-ounce container mini mozzarella cheese balls (bocconcini)
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup dried breadcrumbs, preferably Italian style
- 1 jar your favorite marinara sauce
- Have a large plate or sheet pan lined with paper towels ready to go.
- Prepare three shallow bowls or pie pans. Add the flour to the first, the eggs to the second and the breadcrumbs to the third.
- In a large pan, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil on medium-high heat to 375 degrees. (If you don’t have a food thermometer, the oil will be crackling and a little noisy when it’s ready.)
- Drain the mozzarella and pat it dry with paper towels.
- Meanwhile, simmer your marinara sauce in a medium pan on medium-low heat.
- You’ll repeat this next part with a few pieces of cheese at a time. Dredge the cheese balls through the flour to thoroughly coat, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Make sure they’re well covered. If you see any bald spots, roll them in a little more flour.
- Place the coated cheese balls, a few at a time, in the oil. Give them room to bob around.
- Fry until crisp and golden, about a minute or less. You want to pull them out before they get too brown. As they’re ready, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or spider to your paper towel-lined pan.
- Repeat with all the cheese. Serve immediately with the warmed marinara sauce.
More diner classics we love:
- How to make a milkshake with any ice cream, any toppings, any time
- Break out of your lunch rut with Ina Garten’s ultimate tuna melt
- The best Sunday night comfort meal is rotisserie chicken chili
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Mary Elizabeth Williams
Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of “A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles.”
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