Instant Pot: Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Meatballs - who loves them?! There's something about meatballs that is comforting to me. Maybe it's because I grew up excited about 'spaghetti & meatball' night, whether it was made at home or was a special dinner out at the local Olive Garden. Regardless, I always remember enjoying pasta with meatballs. It wasn't a true pasta dish without meatballs in my book! There's so many ways to prepare them and recently, I decided to stuff them... with cheese. (Anything stuffed with cheese is delicious, by the way.)  These meatballs are tender and flavorful with a soft, creamy center of mozzarella cheese. Enjoy them as an appetizer on it's own or with your favorite pasta...

I meant to share this back on National Meatball Day (March 9th) but life's hectic schedule got the best of me. Better late than never I say! I took a sauce and meatball recipe from Cooking Light and made very little to no changes with the exception of adding fresh mozzarella into the center of each meatball. They were perfect and addictive! I'll need to double this recipe for next time and they make for a great freezer meal too...

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
Cooking spray
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds 90% lean ground sirloin
6 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
garlic cloves, minced
eggs, lightly beaten
1 large fresh mozzarella ball (8oz), diced small

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 low sodium chicken or beef broth
(15-ounce) cans unsalted crushed tomatoes
(14.5-ounce) cans unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.

In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl; stir until combined. Shape into meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each), tucking in a piece of mozzarella inside while ensuring it is completely enclosed. 

Press SAUTE on the IP and add 2 tablespoons oil.

In batches (depending on the size of your IP), lightly brown meatballs.

Once all meatballs have been browned, remove from IP and set aside. 

To prepare the sauce in the now empty IP pot with any fat/oil left behind from the meatballs, continue to set on SAUTE, add chopped onion, garlic cloves, and basil; cook 4 minutes or until softened while stirring frequently. 

Add tomato paste, wine and broth.

Add tomatoes and sugar; bring to a boil. 

Return the meatballs to the IP.

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 7 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 7 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 7 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure for 15 minutes. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure).  No need to touch your IP while it naturally releases pressure. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

When the display reflects L15:00 (which is 15 minutes since the IP has beeped), turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).

Using tongs, remove the meatballs and serve with sauce.

Garnish with fresh basil before serving if desired.

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