Italian Meatball Sub with Spicy Sausage and Mozzarella

Tonight I did a horrible thing! I fed lobster the worst meal ever. When I say worst, I mean health wise. Taste wise, this sub rocked! I try to make healthy meals most of the time, but since lobster really likes meatball subs I thought I'd go nuts and use full fat everything and anything. We're talkin' FULL FAT cheese, bread, meat - MAN FOOD people! I bought ground pork from the market and even though it looked frightening and had scary fat white bits running through it - I bought it anyway. I rarely buy ground meat from the store unless it's turkey since it's so much healthier grinding your own meat at home. That way, you know exactly what part of the animal you're actually using. Unlike the market, who knows what type of mystery meat is goin' in that sucker.....aaaaand that's what's in my tummy right now. Ewww, I'm getting grossed out just thinking about it.

Well, at least our health was worth the sacrifice since the meatball sub was fabulous! No wonder it was the winning recipe on "Top Chef." It was full of flavor and nice an spicy - just how I like it! If you plan on making this, don't freak out like I did when you start throwing the spices on to the meat. I thought for sure I must have miss calculated the quantity of measurements when I cut the recipe in half, since it seemed like a ridiculous amount of spices was going into the meat mixture - I may be Asian, but I lack a bit in the math department. Anyway, what I thought would be a disaster ended up being a pleasant surprise and my oh my were these meatballs tasty. They had a nice spicy kick and were the STAR of the sammie! So next time you're looking for a guilty pleasure, make these and enjoy every bite. NuM!

What are some of your guilty pleasures? Mine always involve sweets and tend to look like this and this and this and......

Italian Meatball Sub with Spicy Sausage and Mozzarella
Adapted from Top Chef
3 servings

• 1/2 lb ground beef (80/20) (I used ground turkey, 93/7% fat)
• 1/2 lb ground pork
• 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley (about 1/3 cup chopped)
• 2 large cloves garlic
• 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
• 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (I used ground cumin)
• 1 1/2 tsp regular paprika
• 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
• 1 1/2 tsp cayenne
• 2 tsp kosher salt*
• 1 tablespoon black pepper
• 2 egg whites

Tomato Sauce or your favorite can of spaghetti or marinara sauce:
• 1 15 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand*
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley (about 1 to 2 tablespoons, chopped - just eyeball it)
• 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, plus more to taste
• 1/4 cup chicken stock (I used broth)
• 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used 2 tbs)
• Salt and pepper and sugar, to taste

• 1 onion, sliced
• 1 red bell pepper, sliced
• 1 Tbl oil
• Salt and pepper, to taste

• 3 Italian bread baguette, toasted (I used French rolls)
• Fresh mozzarella, sliced or shredded
• Grated parmesan


For the Meatball:
1. In a food processor, puree parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. (I was too lazy to use a processor so I measured out 1/3 cup of parsley chopped, then finely chopped/minced it afterward, then I finely minced the garlic and turned it into a garlic paste - I did this by adding one tsp of salt on top of the minced garlic then using the back of my knife crushed the garlic against the cutting board until it turned into a paste - it also dispenses the garlic more evenly throughout the dish. If you'd like to see a demonstration, click here) In a large bowl, mix all remaining ingredients. Add puree mixture and mix everything together.
2. Taste by cooking a small patty on a grill or sauté pan to insure proper seasoning. Next form into meatballs. I made mine about twice the size of a golf ball which equaled 9 balls. I broiled them in a broiler pan for 8-10 minutes on one side then flipped them over and cooked them for another 5 minutes. Be sure to check them during cooking since they can brown quickly. If you don't want to broil them you can cook them over flattop or grill. (Since you're cooking ground pork you should make sure it reaches internal temperature of 160F)

*I used 2 tsp of salt (1 tsp when I made the garlic paste and another teaspoon in the actual meat mixture itself) then made a tester patty and added more salt to taste. The original recipe says to use 1 1/2 tablespoons but I don't think I used that much.

For the Tomato Sauce:
1. In a saucepot, sweat garlic in olive oil and red pepper flakes until aromatic. Add wine, parsley, and reduce by half. Add chicken stock and tomatoes, and allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes or reduce down to desired consistency. Adjust flavor with salt and pepper. Finish with basil (I like my sauces to be thick so I simmered it down to the consistency of a marinara sauce. The sauce tasted a bit acidic so I added a bit of sugar)

* I used diced tomatoes and crushed them with a wooden spoon after I put them in the saucepan. The sauce tasted a little bland so I also added 7 slow roasted tomatoes I had in the freezer to add more flavor. If you’d like the recipe for slow roasted tomatoes, you can find it here.

For the Peperonata:
1. On griddle, cook all vegetables until al dente. Season with salt and pepper.

To Serve:
I sliced the bread down the middle but not all the way through and scooped out a bit of the inside so the meatballs could stay in place. I toasted my bread in the toaster oven for a couple minutes until warm and a bit crusty. Remove the bread from the toaster oven and place a bit of sauce inside the bottom of the bread then place meatballs inside bread add more sauce, top with peperonata. Garnish with mozzarella and finely grated parmesan. Pop under the broiler until the cheese is nice and melted. Watch them closely since the top of the bread can easily burn.

*I used Francisco International French bread rolls. The bread had the right texture since it was nice and soft but I did not realize they are packaged already sliced a bit horizontally. It wasn’t the end of the world, just a bit cumbersome when trying to make the subs. I would recommend using soft bread versus a bread with a thick crispy crust. Enjoy!


FRS said...

Oh, I am with you on the "grind your own meat" idea! These look really great though--love your sense of humor!

Reeni said...

How insanely delicious! The ultimate comfort food!

Me! said...

between you and seeing alex garnachelli make meatballs this morning, I am totally craving them now! Also, why didn't you get a few cuts of pork and grind them yourself?

NuM NuM said...

Hi Me! Now that I think about it, I could have just grinded up a pork shoulder but I only had pork loin in my freezer and I thought it might make the meatballs too dry. Also I was going for FULL FAT no holds barred eating.