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NOLA Lemon Basil Wheat Marinara w/ Mozzarella-stuffed Meatballs

Updated: Jun 4, 2018

Have you ever wondered how you can make marinara sauce more delicious? Add some amazing local craft beer to the recipe!

Now, have you ever pondered about how it could be physically possible to make meatballs even more awesome? Stuff that shit with cheese!

This time in the Beer Down Here Test Kitchen, we decided to cook up a traditional marinara sauce with NOLA Brewing's 7th Street Wheat, which is their light and refreshing American wheat ale with fresh lemon basil added post-fermentation. We felt that the pleasant citrusy spiciness from the beer would compliment the amazing flavors in the sauce adding another layer of complexity.

For a sauce this special, we wouldn't even DARE to make some NORMAL, BORING meatballs, so we decided to make some racketball-sized warlocks and stuff those sons of bitches with cheese!

Read on below for the recipe!



  • 1 lb ground beef (80/20)

  • 1 lb ground pork

  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/4 tbsp salt

  • 4 cloves minced garlic (aprox. 2 tsp)

  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder

  • 1/4 tbsp ground black pepper

  • 1lb brick of Mozzarella (or get fancy and use something like Gorgonzola, smoked Gouda, or pepper-jack)

Marinara Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 white onion (finely diced)

  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 5 cloves minced garlic (aprox. 2.5 tsp)

  • 2 - 14.5 oz cans of whole peeled tomatos

  • 10 oz NOLA Brewing - 7th Street Wheat (and of course drink the rest)

  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 sprig fresh basil



Make the meatballs first and throw them in the freezer ahead of time. This helps them to set up and hold their shape better as to not have all the delicious cheese ooze out.

  1. Add all of the ingredients for the meatballs except the cheese into a large mixing bowl

  2. Mix them together really really good. Like get all in that shit with your bare hands making sure all the good stuff is blended together

  3. Form the meat mixture into whatever size meatballs your heart desires. We made ours about the size of a plum because we are gluttons.

  4. Cut the cheese into about 1" x 1" chunks (smaller or larger depending on the size of your meatballs)

  5. Take a piece of cheese and push it into a meatball, re-shaping and forming the meatball to cover up the cheese. Make sure that you get the cheese in the center and that it has a nice layer of meat surrounding it so all of your cheesy goodness doesn't leak out.

  6. Repeat Step 5 until all of your meatballs are impregnated with cheese.

  7. Put the cheese filled meatballs in the freezer to set up while you make your sauce

  8. Once your sauce is almost ready, its time to cook the meatballs!... and some pasta if you want to turn this into a full blown meal. If not, you can totally just eat the marinara over the meatballs and it will be totally cool with us!

  9. You can either deep fry or pan fry the meatballs, or cook those bad boys in the oven at 400*F until fully cooked.

Marinara Sauce:

  1. Pour the olive oil into a shallow pan and get it nice and hot.

  2. Add the diced onions and red pepper flakes and saute until the onions are clear.

  3. Add the minced garlic and cook for another couple of minutes until fragrant.

  4. Dump in the beer to de-glaze the pan, using your spatula to scrape the bottom and release all of the delicious and flavorful burnt morsels stuck to the bottom.

  5. Add the oregano, salt, and pepper and mix well

  6. Continue to simmer until the beer cooks down and reduces to almost nothing.

  7. Add the whole peeled tomatoes. You will need to break them up really good. You can crush them in your hands while you are adding them to the pan, mash them up in the pan with a slotted spoon or potato masher... or even with your old Little League Baseball trophy. The only thing that's important is that you break up the tomatoes to extract the juice while leaving some of the skin intact to add some chunkiness to the body.

  8. Continue to simmer the sauce until it thickens to your desired consistency.

  9. Cut the heat and toss in and lightly submerge the fresh sprig of basil to let the delicate flavors incorporate into your sauce until you are ready to serve it.

  10. Use this glorious sauce to top over your sexy looking cheese-stuffed meatballs, toss with some angel hair pasta, or use it for dipping some homemade mozzarella sticks! (see link below for recipe).

We recommend pairing this dish with NOLA Brown Ale. It is light enough as to not overpower the sauce and it will cut through the slight acidity of the tomatoes and the malt sweetness will compliment the slight sweetness of the sauce.

As always, if you make this recipe, let us know what you think by hitting us up on social media @beerdownhere and #beerdownhere or drop us an email!



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