Mini Mozzarella Sticks with Jalapeno Ranch Dip
You know that moment when you should be packing for that trip across the world that happens tomorrow, but instead you plant yourself on the sofa under many, many blankets drinking tea with egg nog in it and popping fried cheese in your mouth? Yeah, that’s the moment I’m currently experiencing.
When technically, when this goes live, I’ll currently be doing something fun in Dubai – probably belly dancing in the desert or riding a camel or skiing on a giant man-made ski hill inside the mall while it’s sweltering hot outside (yes, that’s a thing, and yes, I’ve done it).
But in my present, your future, I’m enjoying hella gooey cheese dunked in jalapeno ranch dressing.
These bite-sized mozzarella sticks are perfect party food, especially when paired with this spicy-creamy ranch dip. A secret shortcut makes them super easy!
And I should emphasize that this really is party food and should be reserved for a gathering of more than one person and her dog on the couch. But whatever. I’m avoiding packing, and mini mozzarella sticks are really doing it for me right now.
I always loved mozza sticks at restaurants when I was a kid, and the boxes of frozen appetizers my mom would buy for New Years’ Eve always included some, so they hold a certain nostalgia for me.
My homemade version is super easy – thank you adorably portioned bocconcini cocktail balls. You just dunk the grape-sized balls of fresh mozzarella into some beaten egg, then roll them around in panko breadcrumbs (which are fluffier and crispier than regular crumbs).
I employ my deep-fryer for the task of frying – it was given to me and, though I only use it only a few times a year, love having it. But you don’t need one – you can fry them in 1″ of oil on the stove top. I use a dutch oven to fry, just because I appreciate the extra several inches of barrier between my skin and sputtering oil, but if you’re bold, you can just use a deep skillet.
To tell if the oil is hot enough without a deep fryer or thermometer, just heat oil over medium-high for a few minutes then toss in a bread cube. It should be golden in just under a minute – that’s when the oil is the right temperature to add your mini mozzarella sticks (well ok, balls).
- 14 oz/400 grams two containers cocktail-sized bocconcini, drained
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- Canola or peanut oil for frying
For Jalapeno Ranch
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 jalapeno minced (seeds and ribs removed if less heat is desired)
- 1 tbsp minced parsley
- 1 tbsp minced shallot or green onion
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Roll bocconcini around on paper towels to dry them off completely. In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and salt. Place breadcrumbs in a second shallow bowl. One at a time, dip bocconcini first in egg mixture, then in panko, pressing to adhere crumbs. Transfer coated balls to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and freeze 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together all ingredients for jalapeno ranch.
- Heat cooking oil to 350ºF in a deep fryer or in a dutch oven (you'll need enough to come 1" up the sides). Fry the mozza "sticks" in 2-3 batches for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to and from hot oil using a slotted spoon if using a dutch oven. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with Jalapeno Ranch for dipping.