When I was a kid, meatball subs were always made with home made, whole meatballs. I never did like a bunch of chopped up meatballs on a sub. That is too close to being hamburger for me.
I worked as an apprentice in a great Italian pasta restaurant, when I first started getting serious about professional cooking. The restaurant was located in a shopping plaza. I cooked lunch for the customers and then at 2:00 PM, we would close the restaurant till 4:30, so we could prepare the food for the dinner business.
Afternoons were spent making bread, sauces, fresh pasta, salads and baking meatballs. I was making over 200 fresh meatballs every two days. The owner was a great Italian chef and his meatball recipe was phenomenal!
The aroma of the garlic, herbs and cheese in the meatballs were very aromatic, when baking. The air ventilation system in the kitchen would send the strong meatball aroma from the restaurant kitchen out to the plaza. Shoppers in the plaza could smell the great meatball aroma everywhere! People would walk up to the restaurant, pound on the door and beg to come in for something to eat, even though we were closed in the afternoons. The aroma of our meatballs was mouth watering!
We would open the doors, welcome the meatball aroma crazed customers into the restaurant and only offer meatball subs during the prep hours before dinner service began. The smell of our meatballs baking was like a customer magnet. The meatball aroma was great advertising!
Salsa di Pomodoro Recipe:
This recipe makes about 4 or 5 portions of tomato sauce!
Heat a pot over medium/medium low heat.
Add 5 to 6 ounces of olive oil. (The olive oil proportion should be about 1/10 of the volume of the tomatoes.)
Add 8 cloves of finely chopped garlic.
Add 1/2 cup of finely minced onion.
Saute till the onions turn clear in color, but do not let the onions brown.
Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
Add a 28 ounce can of imported Italian crushed plum tomatoes.
Place a 28 ounce can of imported whole Italian plum tomatoes that are packed in their own juices into a mixing bowl.
Hand squeeze and crush the tomatoes, till no big chunks remain.
Add the hand squeezed tomatoes and juices to the pot.
Add 4 pinches of oregano.
Add sea salt and ground black pepper.
Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh basil.
Add 2 tablespoons of minced Italian parsley.
Add 1 cup of dry red Italian wine. (Chianti)
Heat the sauce and stir, till it starts to gently boil.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Leave the pot uncovered. (Never cover a pot of Italian tomato sauce with a lid, or the sauce will be like stewed tomatoes!)
Slowly simmer the sauce.
Stir the sauce once every 5-7 minutes for 4 hours.
The sauce should be simmering gently and there should be very little bubbling on the surface. Scrape the sides of the inside of the pot back into the sauce too. That stuff is full of flavor!
After 4 hours, the flavors will meld and the tomato sauce will have a medium thin body. The excess tomato juices should be reduced into the sauce at this point. The olive oil should be well combined with the tomatoes, because the sauce was stirred often.
Note: This sauce is traditionally run through a food mill, to smooth the sauce. Allow the sauce to cool to almost room temperature, before running it through an old fashioned hand turned food mill. If you enjoy a coarse salsa di pomodoro, then leave it the way it is.
Keep the salsa di pomodoro warm over very low heat or reheat the sauce to order.
This recipe makes 3 to 4 portions of meatballs!
Place 1 pound of lean ground beef into a mixing bowl.
Add 9 cloves of finely minced garlic.
Add 1/3 cup of finely minced onion.
Add 1 whisked egg.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 4 pinches of oregano.
Add 3 pinches of basil.
Add 3 tablespoons of finely minced Italian parsley.
Add 4 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese.
Add 1/3 cup of fine plain Italian bread crumbs.
Add 2 ounces of water soaked Italian bread pith that has been squeezed dry. (Squeeze the water out of the pith before adding.)
Mix the ingredients together, just like kneading bread dough.
Scoop the meat mixture into medium size meatball portion. (About 2-3 ounces is a normal size meatball.)
Hand roll the meatballs, so they are all the same size and so they have a smooth round shape.
Place the meatballs in a roasting pan that is lightly brushed with oil.
Bake the meatballs in a 350 degree oven.
The pan will need to be removed from the oven once in a while, so the excess grease can be poured off. The meatballs will need to be turned occasionally too. Use a thin metal spatula to free the meatballs from the pan.
Bake the meatballs, till they are fully cooked and lightly browned. Do not cook the meatballs for too long, or they will become dried out. The meatballs should be juicy inside.
Heat 1 cup of the tomato sauce in a sauce pot over medium low/low heat.
Add 3 or 4 meatballs.
Simmer the meatballs in the sauce, till they become hot.
Split an Italian sub roll open.
Place the sub roll on a baking pan.
Place the meatballs and some of the sauce on the sub roll.
Sprinkle some grated mozzarella cheese over the meatballs.
Bake in a 450 degree oven, till the cheese melts. (Do not brown the cheese or it will taste bitter!)
Place the meatball sub on a plate and garnish with Italian parsley sprigs.
Yummy as always! The meatball sub is a one of a kind classic sandwich. There is nothing better than fresh baked meatballs on a sub. Frozen pre-made grocery store meatballs are taboo! The aroma of a great meatball sub can make anybody hungry! Delicious! Ciao Baby! ... Shawna