Sunday, November 14, 2010

Meatball Sub

     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 cooking.  We were located in a shopping plaza.  I'd cook 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 of course, baking meatballs.  I was making over 200 fresh meatballs every two days.  The owner was a great Italian chef and the meatball recipe was phenomenal!  The aroma of the garlic, herbs and cheese in the meatballs when they were baking was very strong.  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 at the plaza.  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 were mouth watering!  So, 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 aroma of our meatballs baking was like a customer magnet.  The aroma was so great!
     Meatball Recipe:       Place about a pound of ground beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add a small handful of finely minced garlic.
     Add a small handful of finely minced onion.
     Add one whisked egg.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add a few generous pinches each of:  oregano, basil and chopped Italian parsley.
     Add a small handful of grated parmesan cheese.
     Add a handful of bread crumbs.
     Add a handful of water soaked Italian bread pith.  (Squeeze the water out of the pith before adding.) 
     Mix the ingredients together just like kneading bread dough.
     Roll the meat mixture into medium size meatball shapes.  About 2-3 ounces is a normal size meatball.  Hand roll the meatballs so they are all the same size.

     Place the meatballs in a roasting pan that is lightly brushed with oil.
     Bake them 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.
     Bake the meatballs till they are fully cooked and brown colored.  Don't cook the meatballs for too long or they will become dried out.  The meatballs should be juicy inside. 
       Salsa Pomodoro Recipe:  Sizzle 8 cloves of chopped garlic and a handful of fine chopped onions in a good amount of olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pot.  (The olive oil proportion should be about 1/10 of the volume of the tomatoes.)  

     Add a sprinkle of crushed, dried red pepper.

     When the onions turn clear, add equal amounts of good quality canned imported Italian crushed plum tomatoes and hand squeezed canned imported whole Italian plum tomatoes in their own juices.  (28 ounce cans is what I used for this recipe.  When hand squeezing tomatoes, pour the can into a mixing bowl and squeeze till no big chunks remain)  

     Add a few generous pinches of oregano.

     Add sea salt and ground black pepper.

     Add 1 small bunch of chopped fresh basil.  

     Pour a glass of dry Italian red wine or French Cabernet into the sauce.  

     Heat the sauce till it starts to bubble and then turn the heat to medium low.  (Never cover the pot of an Italian tomato sauce!)  

     Slow simmer the sauce and stir once every 5-7 minutes for 4 hours.  

     The sauce should be simmering gently so that there is very little bubbling on the surface.  Scrape the sides of the inside of the pot into the sauce too.  That stuff is full of flavor!  

     After 4 hours, the flavors have melded and the tomato sauce has a true body.  The excess tomato huices should be "tightened" into the sauce at this point.   The olive oil will be well combined with the tomatoes, because of the regular stirring. 

     Meatball Sub:  Heat a few baked meat balls in a sauce pot with the tomato sauce (Salsa Pomodoro) over medium heat.  

     Split an Italian bread sub roll open so the top and bottom are still attached to each other.  

     Spoon the meatballs and some of the sauce on the sub roll.  

     Cover the meatballs with grated mozzarella cheese.  

     Bake the sub on a roasting pan in a 450 degree oven till the cheese melts.  Don't let the cheese brown or it will be like "Shoe leather!"  

     Sprinkle a little bit of oregano on the melted cheese.  

     Set the sub on a plate and serve.

     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

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