Way back in the day, when Steve and I were first married, we would go out to this restaurant we liked, the Ground Round, probably once every couple of weeks. As the name suggests, it was not a fancy restaurant by any means. It was one of those places where you could get popcorn and peanuts and everyone threw the shells on the floor. Every time we went, we would always order buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks and a pitcher of beer…..don’t I wish I still had my 20-something metabolism!
Now that I have my 40-something metabolism, I don’t eat mozzarella sticks on a regular basis, but I do still find them to be a tasty treat. So I thought it would be fun to make them at home, something that I’d never done before. It turns out they’re not too difficult to make AND you can make them ahead and freeze them. Then when you’re craving some mozzarella sticks or you need a quick appetizer, you just put them in the oven for about 10 minutes to reheat.
To make these I used string cheese and because I wanted to cut out a few calories, I used reduced fat. I also didn’t deep fry them, I pan fried them in olive oil. To freeze them, I put them in a single layer on a platter and put them in the freezer. Once they were frozen, I transferred them to a freezer bag. When it came time to serve them, I paired them up with my homemade marinara sauce for dipping.
Make-ahead Mozzarella Sticks
- 1 package string cheese (I used reduced fat)
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup flour
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups Italian style panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup olive oil, for frying
- marinara sauce, for dipping
Combine panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in shallow dish and put beaten eggs and flour each in a shallow dish as well.
The secret to not having the cheese ooze out when you fry them is to make sure the cheese is well coated. Dip first in the eggs, then the flour, then eggs again and finally the panko, making sure you don’t see any cheese exposed.
Place the breaded cheese on a plate or platter. When they’re all breaded, put then in the freezer for about 20 minutes so that everything gets nice and cold. That will also help keep the cheese from oozing out.
Heat oil in a large skillet (I used a cast iron) over medium heat, making sure it’s nice and hot. Fry the cheese sticks for about 1-2 minutes per side, just until golden. You will also want to fry them in batches so that you don’t over-crowd the pan. Drain on paper towels.
If you’re going to freeze them, put them on a platter in a single layer and freeze. Once frozen transfer to a freezer bag.
When you’re ready to reheat the mozzarella sticks, bake them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Serve with the marinara sauce for dipping.
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