I just got home from my last trip of the summer, which means it is officially back to school time. This is very bittersweet for me. On one side, it will feel good to get back to work and have a schedule again instead of just running around like crazy like I have all summer. On the other, I have to go back to work.
Back to school makes me think of fall, and fall makes me think of good ol’ midwest style comfort food. Here in Minnesota, comfort food is an absolute must during our nine or so months of winter each year. Even though it may not be exactly what you think of for a summer dish, these are still fantastic any time of the year. Especially with a large glass of red wine.
The most important part of a meatball sub is arguably the sauce. I use the Homemade Marinara Sauce from my chicken parmesan recipe. The sauce is extremely versatile. I use it for pasta, chicken, and of course meatballs. Homemade sauce is so important because the flavor is better than anything you get from a can. Most canned sauces have too much sodium and don’t taste like anything else. At the same time, I rarely have the urge or time to steam and peel my tomatoes. Especially during the school year. This recipe is a nice marriage of convenience and fresh flavors.
The other most important part is obviously the meatballs. I adore meatballs. I had a very bizarre friend once who claimed she could be a vegetarian if she didn’t love meatballs so much. She was strange, but she was correct. Meatballs are the best. The truth about meatballs though, is that they are very easy to screw up. So I’m going to tell you the secrets to perfect meatballs.
First off, use more than one kind of meat. The holy trinity is beef, pork, and veal. I, however, am not rich enough to be buying veal all the time so I usually end up with beef and pork. Next, you want to use good quality meatballs and soak them in milk. You can make your own breadcrumbs for sure, but I love to use panko. It holds together so much better in the liquid, and I love the texture it gives the meatballs. Finally, sear the meatballs first to hold in all the flavors, and then finish them by baking them with the sauce. This also helps to get them moist and tender.
The final part of this meal is the bread. I use a nice, sturdy hoagie role and top it with garlic butter and mozzarella. Except for my mozzarella-hating Italian fiance. He got provolone. Because he is crazy.
All together, these are the best meatball subs every. Guaranteed.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 T dry parsley
- 2 T fresh tarragon
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup finely diced white onion
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- salt and pepper
- 1 batch of homemade marinara sauce (link above)
- hoagie buns
- 1 stick butter
- 1 T garlic salt
- 1 T dry parsley
- fresh mozzarella cheese
Make sure your sauce is prepared first.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients down to salt and pepper. Mix with your hands and do NOT over mix! As soon as everything is combined, roll into balls about one inch in diameter, or as desired. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, but the meatballs in it. This usually takes me two batches, because you don’t want to put the meatballs too close together. Turn the meatballs regularly, just to sear all the sides.
When all sides are brown remove from heat and add directly to the sauce. When all the meatballs are seared and mixed in the sauce put it all in a large baking dish.
Split each hoagie roll down the middle. Make sure you use quality rolls that have enough body to hold up to the sauce. Blend together the butter, garlic salt, and parsley. Spread onto the inside of the rolls. Set about three slices of cheese down the middle of the roll and set on a tray in the oven, which should still be on from the meatballs. Bake for about 5 minutes, then turn the oven to broil for around a minute. The baking crisps up the roll, and then broil to melt the cheese. It is weird, but it works better than any other way I have discovered.
When the cheese has melted, remove the rolls from the oven.
Top each bun with meatballs and sauce. Pour a glass of wine. Feel comforted.