I received Jeff’s e-mail this past week for Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Meatballs. They sounded like they would be very good so I decided I would try my hand at making them for our Sunday dinner today (7/17/16).
A few things became apparent when I decided to get the ingredients this morning.
First, I could not purchase less than a pound each of the meat so I had to double the recipe. And also, I could only find mild ground Italian sausage meat as opposed to hot breakfast sausage.
Second I should mention that I have a garden out back where I grow Jalapenos and other pepper plants. When I picked them for this recipe, there were not enough Jalapenos so I supplemented with some Chile peppers to make up the difference needed instead of running back to the store for more Jalapenos. The ratio of Jalapenos to Chile’s was about 2 to 1. I’ll discuss the flavor and heat later.
I also added about 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce to the mix just too bump up the flavor just a bit more. Here again I should note that in order to suit our taste, my version of Jeff’s Rub has about a third more garlic and a third more Kosher salt, then called for in his Original Rub Recipe.
Since I was already making some changes, I decided to stuff the meatballs with Mozzarella Cheese instead of the cream cheese. Don’t have a good reason for doing this, but the Mozzarella just seemed to be a better choice and is easy to stuff (I’ve used it before in cheese stuffed hamburgers). My taste buds said Cream Cheese may have added a sweet flavor I just wasn't ready for.
My plans were for the meatball’s to be part of a meal rather than an appetizer so I did roll them into about 1 ½” + diameter balls. I made sixteen (16) meatballs from the two (2) pounds of the meat mix.
After putting the meatballs in the freezer for about an hour just to solidify them a little, I rolled them in Jeff’s rub to get a little crust and added flavor on the outside. Since there is only two of us eating, eight (8) were smoked and eight (8) were vacuumed packed and frozen for another day.
Just as recommended in the recipe Jeff sent, I got my smoker up to 225+ degrees and let them smoke for two (2) hours. The meatballs were situated on a grill pan that has many holes in it and which allowed about 1” separation between the meatballs.
After two hours I tested the meat temperature and it registered 145 degrees. Since these meatballs were quite large, it needed another half hour to reach 160 degrees.
I served our meatball dinner with sides of roasted Sweet Potatoes medallions (coated in olive oil and dusted with Jeff's Rub) and steamed Broccoli. Of course we used Jeff’s BBQ sauce to dress the meatballs at the dinner table for that great BBQ flavor.
OK, OK I know…How did they turn out? If I have to say so myself…great! They were absolutely delicious. The meat was moist and tender with just a little rub crust. As expected, the heat was a little intense as the Chile’s did push the heat level up more than a notch. Glad I did not add any red pepper.
There were two left over Meatballs from this first batch that will make a great sliced meatball sandwich for lunch next week.