March 27, 2006
Meatball sandwiches, damn it! Does it get any better? I think not. Just look at it. Now look at it again. Now try not to look. Can't do it, can you? You looked. I know it.
Meatball sandwiches are the sort of thing you make when you have leftover meatballs, right? Frankly, I usually make the meatballs with the soul purpose of creating this sandwich, as I'm continually underwhelmed by my pairings of spaghetti and meatballs. In general, sandwiches have become something of an art form for me. Walking home with a warm baguette under my arm naturally gets me thinking about what I can do with it when I get home. Not that simply breaking off a chunk, dipping it in a dish of olive oil that's been sprinkled with aged parmesan doesn't do the trick just fine most of the time!
This sandwich is definitely a fork and knife affair. You might notice from the picture that I have a hard time making sandwiches that realistically feed less than 3 people, so really the fork and knife are just necessary. I mean, good luck fitting that in your mouth! It's a problem; I'm dealing with it.
3/4 - 1 lb ground beef (the pkg. here = 3/4 lb. so that's what I use)
1/2 cup dry oatmeal; or 2 sliced soft bread torn into chunks; or bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. tomato paste (or ketchup)
1 tsp. salt pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil (or a handful of fresh)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 jar (or maybe 3 cups) of your favorite marinara sauce, or make your own
a baguette, ciabatta, or other crusty rolls
thinly sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella (could also use provolone)
Lightly beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the oatmeal or bread to soften. Add all the ingredients except the meat and mix well. Add ground beef and mix until thoroughly combined. Now a neat little trick from Rachael Ray: divide the mixture into 4 parts (roughly, just mark it in the bowl) and divide each part in roughly 4 again, making 16 meatballs. Roll meatballs and place on a baking sheet. (This worked well for me using 3/4 pound of meat, but I think you'd end up with really big meatballs if you did this in her recipe that calls for 1-1/2 pounds of meat. yikes.)
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet (important!) and saute meatballs in batches until nicely browned on all sides. Pour marinara sauce (or prepare your own) into pan and add meatballs. Bring sauce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Cut a meatball in half to see if it's done. (I've also heard of baking the meatballs, but don't have experience with that...if you do, please share your thoughts!) I cut a reasonable (some would argue with that) length of baguette and cut a slit along the top, spreading it open slightly to make room for the meatballs. You're making a boat, in fact. Add 3-4 meatballs with plenty of sauce, top with mozzarella slices and grated parmesan. Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and melted and the bread is slightly toasted. Serve extra sauce on the side. This would pair nicely with this salad. Serves 4. Enjoy!