Friday, November 16, 2007

Mozzarella Stuffed Dinner Rolls

Chris and I bought some water-packed mozzarella last week for a recipe that we never got around to making. I have been casually looking for a way to use them ever since. I happened upon this recipe on the baking bites website while looking for recipes for dinner rolls and was immediately excited. We didn't have plans for dinner tonight, this would use the mozzarella and it looked yummy beyond belief.

Despite being a yeast bread, the rolls don't actually take a long time to make and rise. 5 minutes to proof the yeast, about 15 minutes of mixing and an hour of rising. The final prep took us about 10 minutes. While the rolls were rising, Chris made a basic red sauce from his Mario Batali Molto Italiano book. I thought the sauce was a little sweet (nothing I hate worse than sweet flavors with something that's supposed to be savory...) so Chris added some oregeno, red pepper flakes and a couple of other things to improve it.

For most people this would probably just be a side dish along with dinner, but because of my unending obsession with calories we actually made this the entire meal. We had ideas for how to make it more meal-like -- add Italian sausage to the center with the mozzarella or prosciutto bits to the dough, sprinkle Parmesan on top -- to name a few. The rolls were a bit boring fresh from the oven, but we brushed them with butter which instantly improved them 100%, then dipped them into the red sauce. Fantastic.


2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1/2 cup water, warm (110F)
1/2 cup milk, warm (110F)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
12 3/4 inch cubes of fresh mozzarella cheese
course sea salt or garlic salt to top
butter for brushing

In a large bowl, combine yeast and water and let stand for 5 minutes, until slightly foamy. Add milk, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups of flour, stirring well. Add the remaining flour gradually, stirring until the dough comes together into a ball, away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl to rise until doubled, 50-60 minutes in a warm kitchen.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each into a round. Place a square of cheese inside each dough round and pinch tightly to seal. Place seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a dish towel for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F while rolls rest.

Brush rolls with a little water and sprinkle with coarse salt or garlic salt, if you prefer. Bake rolls for 18-20 minutes, until golden. Brush with butter.

Serve right away, as the cheese is best warm. Don’t worry if it leaks out onto the baking sheet; the rolls will still taste great.

Makes 12 rolls.

For the Tomato Sauce: A couple of notes -- Chris halved this recipe, and ended up adding a few things to it, but I'm not sure what he added besides red pepper flakes, oregeno and parsley. We also used a can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes since that's what we happened to have on hand. The recipe is written here as it appeared in the book.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 spanish onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
two 28-oz cans whole tomatoes

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook until the carrot is quite soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, with their juice, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until as thick as hot cereal, about 30 minutes. Season with salt. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for 6 months.

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