Meatball Sandwiches

A hot meatball sandwich is one of those comfort foods that is hard to turn down. They are a great weeknight dinner entrée or weekend entertaining appetizer. Sally and I think that they were made for tailgating! The beauty of the meatball sandwich is that it can serve any size appetite! You can cut your foot long sandwich roll into individual meatball sliders, 3 meatball sandwiches, or for those large appetites, they can eat a 6 meatball foot long!

If you are planning on picnicking, having an outdoor cookout, or tailgating with these sandwiches, make your meatballs and sauce the night before and let them cool. Refrigerate overnight and bring to your event in a cooler. On site, you can heat your sauce and meatballs in a pot over a gas burner/grill.

When assembling the sandwiches, I like using a crispy sub roll. If you are at home, place your rolls in the oven for a few minutes, if you are tailgating, you can place them open faced over the grill until they have crisped. Add slices of cheese, meatballs, sauce, and top with Parmesan cheese and shredded basil. Cut sandwiches into desired lengths before serving.

Meatball Sandwiches
4 (1 foot long) sub rolls
1/4 pound of provolone cheese, sliced thin
Meatballs
Makes 24 (2 1/2 inch diameter balls)
2 pounds ground round

1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage

2 cups chopped fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup whole milk
2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped vidalia onions

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Hot Hungarian paprika

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup chopped vidalia onions

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

1 (28 oz.) can good quality crushed tomatoes

1 (28 oz.) can good quality whole tomatoes

2 medium bay leaves

1 cup red wine

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl add the ground round and the Italian sausage. Mix to blend. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl add the breadcrumbs, milk and eggs. Stir to blend.
  3. Add the onions, cheese, salt, pepper, paprika, mustard and cloves to the ground meat mixture. Using your hands or a spoon mix until ingredients a are blended. Add the egg and breadcrumb mixture to the meat mixture. Mix until blended.
  4. Form 24 equally sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet. In a large non stick saute pan add the olive oil and butter. Melt over medium heat. Add 8 of the meatballs to the saute pan. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, turning meatballs until all sides are lightly browned. Remove meatballs and return to the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining meatballs. When all the meatballs have been browned, put the pan of meatballs into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reserve drippings left in saute pan and set aside. Remove meatballs from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  5. While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce. In a large stockpot add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring, until onions soften. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, wine, salt, sugar, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir and continue to cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves from the tomato sauce. Add the reserved pan drippings from the meatballs to the sauce. Stir. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until it is smooth. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook sauce until meatballs are added.
  6. When the meatballs are cool enough to touch, add them to the sauce. Spoon sauce over each meatball to cover and simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 45 minutes. Serve meatballs and sauce over toasted hoagie buns lined with provolone cheese.
Photography © Taylor Mathis
Recipe © Sally James
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