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Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs

Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs in Smoky Tomato Sauce

A queso-filled version of albóndigas, these hearty mouthfuls are top-notch party food. Be gentle when forming the meatballs to ensure they remain tender.
Servings 8


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 ounces smoked Idiazábal cheese cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • SAUCE:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes


  • MEATBALLS: Combine beef, garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, milk, smoked paprika, and salt in a bowl. Using your hands, gently mix all ingredients to incorporate. Shape mixture into 2 tablespoon–size balls. Poke a hole in each ball and insert 1 cheese cube. Re-form meatballs to seal in cheese. Refrigerate meatballs for 30 minutes.
  • Warm olive oil in a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat. Sear meatballs, in batches if necessary, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total (they will not be cooked through). Transfer meatballs to a platter and set aside; do not wipe out skillet.
  • SAUCE: Add olive oil to same pan used for the meatballs. Once oil is warm, add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add paprika, anchovy paste, and sugar, stirring to combine. Cook for 1 minute, then add wine, stirring quickly to scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan. Add tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil.
  • Add meatballs to sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Rebecca Haley-Park

Rebecca Haley-Park is culture's former editor and resident stinky cheese cheerleader. A native New Englander, she holds a BFA in creative writing from University of Maine at Farmington.

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