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You'll get perfectly succulent, flavorful meatballs by following the Meatball Subs sandwich recipe I share here. Cook them in my favorite tomato sauce; or, if time is short, substitute a good-quality store-bought marinara sauce.
Submarine sandwiches or subs are another great Italian contribution to American food.
Subs are among the many culinary gifts Italian immigrants brought to our country. Long, crusty rolls stuffed with meat or other delicious fillings were popular lunches in the Northeast, and various theories exist as to why they came to be called subs. Most plausibly, the underwater craft were built in area shipyards where many Italian Americans worked. As the sandwiches spread nationwide, they acquired other names, as well, including hoagies (after Philadelphia's World War I Hog Island shipyard); grinders, New England slang for a dockworker; and heroes, probably referring to the treat's heroic proportions.
Whatever you call the sandwich, it starts with a good crusty roll about 10 inches long. Find an Italian bakery in your neighborhood, or buy a longer, slender Italian loaf or French baguette and cut it into individual portions.
Sub fillings, hot or cold, are incredibly varied and include all sorts of Italian deli meats and cheeses; thinly sliced roast beef or turkey; grilled chicken breast, fish, or shrimp; tuna salad or egg salad with roasted peppers; or vegetarian versions with thinly sliced fresh, grilled, or pickled vegetables.
Among my favorite subs are big, juicy Italian meatballs cooked in tomato sauce, nestled into oven-warmed rolls lined with provolone cheese.
If you like, you can also garnish them with sliced tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, pickled pepperoncini, and even the thinly shredded iceberg lettuce so many sub shops add to everything.
Meatball Subs Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Meatball Subs Ingredients
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 slices Italian bread, crusts discarded, cut into small dice
1/4 cup milk
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large cage-free egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon each chopped fresh parsley, basil, and thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cups Wolfgang's Favorite Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
4 individual hoagie rolls
8 thin slices provolone cheese
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Meatball Subs Recipe Instructions
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender but not yet browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread and milk. Set aside until the milk has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Add to the mixing bowl the onion-garlic mixture, beef, egg, Parmesan, herbs, salt, sugar, and pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined.
Moistening your hands with cold water, roll about one-eighth of the mixture into a large, even meatball and place it on a large plate or baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture to make 8 meatballs in total.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the tomato sauce to a gentle simmer. One at a time, carefully lower the meatballs into the sauce. Reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are done, about 45 minutes.
About 30 minutes before the meatballs are done, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. About 10 minutes before the meatballs are done, use a bread knife to split the rolls open lengthwise without cutting completely through them; open out the rolls a bit, put them on a baking sheet, and warm in the oven for 5 minutes. Then, arrange 2 slices of provolone inside each roll and warm a few minutes longer to melt the cheese.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs from the sauce to the rolls, placing 2 meatballs inside each. Spoon some sauce over the meatballs, garnish with Parmesan, and close each sandwich. Serve immediately, cutting each sandwich crosswise in half if you like.
Wolfgang Puck's Favorite Tomato Sauce Recipe
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: Makes about 6 cups
Wolfgang Puck's Favorite Tomato Sauce Ingredients
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 pounds fresh Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 cups organic chicken broth, heated
16 fresh basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Wolfgang Puck's Favorite Tomato Sauce Recipe Instructions
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
Stir in the tomato paste and then the tomatoes, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, and then stir in the broth.
Simmer briskly until the sauce is thick, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stack the basil leaves, roll up lengthwise, and cut across very thinly to make a chiffonade.
Stir the basil into the sauce. Piece by piece, whisk in the butter.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Wolfgang Puck's Favorite Meatball Subs Sandwich Recipe
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