Meatballs and Sauce are just as great after a long day at work as they are during the game. Read on for my recipe and how I turn them in to a Meatball Parm Sandwich to rival the best.
My first-draft intro sentence was in ‘all caps’ because I was so excited about this recipe. Not really because of the meatballs themselves but the marriage of meatball, tomato sauce, and provolone on a toasted roll. It’s one of my favorite things to get at a pizza place. Sadly though, I’ve come across too many sub par parms in my life. The meatballs should be tender and meaty. The sauce should be rich, deep, and a little sweet. The cheese should be more than a pretty face of melted tasteless goo. I’d argue that if you don’t cut the roof of your mouth from a properly toasted roll then it’s not worth eating.
For my Meatballs and Sauce recipe I used a somewhat traditional meatball mixture. I like mine a little more beefy than traditional though. I’m using 1.5 pounds of 15% fat ground beef and 1 pound of ground pork. Feel free to improvise. I strongly encourage you to mix the breadcrumb mixture in a separate bowl from the ground meat. This prevents over working the meat making it too dense. So in a small bowl mix together some fresh breadcrumbs, milk, egg, minced garlic and onion, parsley, and pickapeppa or worcestershire sauce. Once that’s all combined add it to the meat and reggiano cheese. Gently fold it in with a spatula. Keep your hands out of the bowl until your final forming. This will keep the heat from your hands melting the fat. Once it’s all well incorporated you can cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes up to over night.
Again I’m going mostly traditional with the sauce. I mean, everyone has their own take on this stuff so what does traditional even mean anyway? Slowly sweat half a finely minced onion in olive oil. Add some garlic and salt. Add 1 cup water and simmer on low until the water is mostly evaporated. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, dried oregano, fresh basil, a bit of white sugar and red pepper flakes. Simmer everything on low heat for as long as you can tolerate. There’s nothing wrong with adding a cup or two of water along the way to prolong the simmering. This helps melt the onions in to the sauce. I think I simmered mine for nearly 5 hours before I added the meatballs.
Once your meatballs mixture has chilled in the refrigerator you can start to form the balls. I got 25 1 1/2 – 2 inch in diameter meatballs with this 2.5 pounds of meat. After you’ve prepped your balls, heat a quarter cup of oil in a large dutch oven. I find a dutch oven to be the perfect vessel for frying meatballs. It has a nice heavy bottom to dissipate heat and high walls to prevent splatters. At this point my stove top is occupied by a dutch oven for the meatballs and a stock pot for the tomato sauce. As each batch of meatballs is done I just plop them right in to the almost simmering sauce. Don’t crowd your balls. I was able to fry 7 at a time.
And that’s about it. Of course the most important ingredient here is time. You could take a short cut and buy a jar of sauce for your meatballs. Or maybe you could buy some frozen meatballs for your homemade sauce. Yeah, well neither of those are the Eat Up! Kitchen way so you better not let me catch you doing that!! Seriously. Don’t ever buy sauce in a jar. It’s one of the biggest culinary crimes there is. Worse case – buy a can of crush tomatoes and simmer it with olive oil, fresh garlic and onion, salt, and red pepper flakes. It takes an extra 50 seconds to chop the vegetables. As for frozen meatballs, you could get away with that if they’re freshly made in the store you’re buying them. But they probably suck.
If you’re going for the touch down and want to serve some Meatball Parm sandwiches during the game, toss everything in a crock pot to keep them warm. I like to set out little club rolls and freshly grated reggiano next to the crock pot for self serve. For a 2-point conversion, offer to toast the sandwich with some freshly shaved provolone.
Meatballs and Sauce
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 cup finely diced Onion
- 2 Tbs minced Garlic
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbs Dried Oregano
- 2 sprigs fresh Basil
- 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 tsp Sugar
- 1 cup Water
- 1 35 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 28 oz. can Tomato Puree
- 1 cup fresh Bread Crumbs
- 1 Tbs Whole Milk
- 1 Egg
- 1.5 Tbs Pickapeppa or Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Tbs Minced Garlic
- 1/4 cup finely Diced Onion
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano
- 1.5 lbs. 15% Fat Ground Beef
- 1 lb. Ground Pork
- In a large stock pot sweat onions over medium low heat in olive oil for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic for 1 more minute.
- Add salt, oregano, basil, pepper flakes, sugar, and water. Stir and simmer on low heat until most of the water has dissolved.
- Empty both cans of tomatoes in to stock pot. Stir well to combine with ingredients. Increase heat to bring to a simmer then reduce. Heat for at least 1 hour. For best results heat for 4-6 hours adding 1-2 cups of water to prolong simmer.
- Add ground beef, ground pork, and reggiano in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate small bowl add bread crumbs and milk. Stir to combine with your finger tips, gently squeezing the bread crumbs to absorb all the milk.
- Add egg and Pickapeppa sauce and repeat mixing with your finger tips. Stir in garlic, onions, salt, pepper, parsley. Add this mixture to the meat mixture.
- Use a silicone spatula to fold the breadcrumb mixture in to the meat. Use cutting and folding motions to thoroughly combine without over working the meat.
- Use your hands to form the meat in to a ball in the bowl then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 4 hours.
- Form meatballs in to 1 1/2 to 2 inch diameter balls. You should have about 25.
- Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a cast iron dutch oven over medium high heat. Fry meatballs in a few batches browning 2-3 sides of each meatball.
- As each batch is done use tongs to transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce.
- Cook meatballs in tomato sauce for 1 hour covered over very low heat.
- Meatball Parm (long roll)
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Cut a hoagie or steak roll lengthwise and place on a sheet pan. Coat the bottom with prepared tomato sauce. Place 4-5 meatballs on the roll and coat with another layer of sauce. Top with freshly shaved or grated sharp provolone. Transfer sheet pan to very top rack of oven.
- Heat until cheese begins to melt and edges of the roll start to brown or char.
- Top with freshly rated parmesan reggiano.