Here’s a cold weather way to enjoy fresh mozzarella cheese. You can do this with any shape mozzarella, even string cheese, but I like the little balls, they’re kind of like the cheese version of a cocktail meatball. Fresh rosemary and Parmesan are the only flavors in the breadcrumb coating, so the point of these is more about texture than flavor…it’s all about molten cheese in a crispy crust. Be sure to have a warm bowl of your favorite marinara sauce ready for dipping.
There’s no need for a huge vat of oil for deep frying, I used a small, high sided saucepan and a couple of inches of vegetable oil. The breading process can be a little messy, so it helps to bread all of the cheese at once and set them out on a plate, ahead of time. That way you can clean up while you heat the oil, and get straight to eating once the last balls are cooked. This is one appetizer that won’t wait, the cheese will only stay melted so long.
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp very finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 1/2 tsp salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 8 oz container cherry sized mozzarella balls
- vegetable oil for frying
- your favorite marinara sauce for dipping
- Set out 3 small bowls. Put the flour in one. Beat the egg and milk together in the second. Mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and rosemary in the third. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste to the breadcrumb mixture.
- Drain the mozzarella balls and dry them on paper towels. Dip the cheese balls first in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs, tossing well to get an even coating. I double dipped the balls back into the egg and once more into the crumbs to get a nice complete coating. Do this for all the balls, and set on a tray.
- In a small saucepan with high sides, heat at least 2 inches of oil over medium heat. If you have a thermometer, you're aiming for around 330--340F.
- Working in small batches, drop the balls into the hot oil and let them fry to a golden brown, about a minute or so. You don't want the cheese to ooze out, so watch them carefully. Toss the balls gently with a spoon to make sure they don't stick and they get evenly cooked. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and set them on a rack while you cook the rest.
- Serve hot with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.
Make sure to get the entire surface of each cheese ball covered with the coating, or your cheese may ooze out during frying. Japanese Panko crumbs make the coating extra crispy, and you will find them with the regular breadcrumbs in your store, or in the Asian section.
Shower them with a little extra Parmesan, set out the toothpicks, and dig right in.