Sometimes I eat like a teenage boy…and he really wanted a meatball sub, so I caved in and finally made one.
Makes 6 subs
For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
Salt and pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup red wine
1 bay leaf
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
– Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper pepper flakes and cook 1 minute longer. Transfer 1 cup of onion mixture to bowl and reserve.
– Add tomato paste and sugar to onion mixture in skillet and cook, stirring, until the paste begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it’s nearly evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook until thickened, a bout 1 hour. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
For the Meatballs:
Makes about 24 1-inch meatballs
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup milk
1 pound 85% lean ground beef or meatloaf mix
Salt and pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
– In a small bowl, mash together the bread and milk until thoroughly combined to make a panade. Place beef in a large mixing bowl and add the panade, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, the grated cheese, and the reserved (see sauce recipe above) onion mixture. With potato masher or hands, thoroughly combine all ingredients.
– Using a 1-tablespoon measure, scoop meat out onto a baking sheet. Roll out each tablespoonful of meat into meatballs and place back on sheet. Heat olive oil in in a large skillet over medium heat until it begins to smoke. Cook half of the meatballs until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate and cook remaining meatballs.
– Return first batch of meatballs to skillet and add 3 cups of the tomato sauce to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer the meatballs until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
For the Sandwiches:
6 (about 6-inch long) sub rolls
Olive oil for brushing
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Optional garnishes: banana peppers or fresh chopped basil
– While meatballs simmer, preheat oven to 400˚F. Split rolls in half lengthwise and brush all sides with olive oil. Warm bread for 5 to 7 minutes on a baking sheet, then, place tray on cooling rack. Fill each roll with 4 to 6 meatballs, top with additional sauce, and 2 to 3 tablespoons cheese and return to oven. Bake until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Serve with optional garnishes and additional sauce.