It is important not to complicate a meatball sub. I say this with absolutely no authority as a meatball sub connoisseur but as a lover of this classic delectable sandwich. I have often referred to them lovingly as “meaty ball subs”. I am always looking for a great meatball sub and find that they are a rare commodity where I live. I decided to make what I consider to be the tastiest meatball sub and I will share this with you. Hey, plant your own garden instead of waiting for flowers right?
Begin by making the tomato sauce as this gets better the longer it simmers, leave it overnight for even more flavor. Just make a very simple tomato sauce. Here is the recipe I used.
Basic Tomato Sauce:
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 6-8 leaves fresh basil leaves
- 3-6 cloves garlic roasted and then put in each clove to simmer with sauce-crush them with a spoon later
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- drizzle with olive oil, 5 tbs
- finally, just before serving add 2 tbs of butter to bring layers of flavor to the sauce.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add crushed tomatoes and raw quarted onions (big chunks). Add basil, garlic, salt and pepper. When the garlic is done roasting add this as well. Let the sauce come to a boil, lower heat to low and stir occasionally until desired thickness. Drizzle with olive oil part way through the simmering to taste (I usually simmer for a couple of hours). Remove the big chunks of onion and just before serving add the butter.
Next, make the meatballs. Here is my simple recipe.
.660 kg ground lean beef (roughly, does not have to be exact, just about those combinations)
.510 kg ground pork *see above note
2 large eggs
1/2 freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 clove of minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup breadcrumbs (use day old Italian bread, grated in the food processor)
lukewarm water just to moisten a little more
*bread crumbs for rolling the meatballs in before putting them in the muffing tray is optional-if you decide to, just make extra from the ones you used for the meat mixture
Pre-heat oven to 400C. Combine beef, pork in a large bowl. Add eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic and salt and pepper. Using your hands, blend ingredients together. Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add water, a bit at a time until the mixture is quite moist. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds and place the meatballs in individual, miniature muffin tin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. As a side note. I tried one batch with just regular meatballs and then another that I rolled in Italian bread crumbs first. My decision about the better ball is discussed below. **Also see Alton Brown method for this delicious muffin tin idea.
The meatball challenge above. I would suggest rolling the meatballs in bread crumbs first, as it does end up making a more tender, meaty ball. Combine the meatballs with the sauce and let it simmer until you are ready to use.
For the Meatball Sub assembly:
6-8 hoagie buns
mozzarella cheese grated (about 2 cups or less if you want)
meatballs in sauce that are nice and hot- I use 4 per sandwich
Finally, when you are assembling the meatball subs, use a nice crispier hoagie to absorb some of the tomato sauce. I dig out a small well in the lower part of the bun to let the saucy meatballs sit. I also cover with a little extra sauce (can’t have too much in my opinion). Sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese and then broil the sub so that the cheese is bubbly. Finally eat. Bite into a melt in your mouth meatball sub.