It started back as far as I can remember. Ever since those days I’ve had an affection for sandwiches and subs, homemade or artisan deli and sub shops. There was something special about a place that baked its own breads and stocked fresh goods and meats. It’s also about the time I first started appreciating cheese and all the wonderful varieties. But it took me quite some time to appreciate all the offerings, instead usually settling for standard deli varieties and one or two common cheeses.
All that changed, but it took longer than I’d like to admit. It was probably around the time I started hanging out with friends with diverse ethnic backgrounds and in doing so opened myself up to foods that I wouldn’t normally be around and choose. And it all changed when I first tried real Italian food. And a friend’s Nonna and her handmade meatballs. I had never tasted anything like it before.
For years prior I looked upon meatballs in the same way I looked at meatloaf. I would pass. Time and time again. And for one reason or another I never thought to choose the meatball option at the sub shops. Never. It took me until much later to finally decide on change. And, one time, instead of ordering the same thing I usually did, I ordered a meatball sandwich. And I never looked back.
There was a short period after that when I only ordered meatball subs. Fresh marinara sauce, homemade meatballs and a soft cheese that melted evenly across everything in the salamander at the restaurant. It became my favourite. And ordered it every time I stepped through the front doors. Years later I tried to recreate that same great taste and flavour and failed. Miserably. But I kept on. And now I have this.
The truth is I honed my favourite meatball years ago, partially in the restaurants I worked at and also through countless trial and error at home. A small change here and there until I settled on this recipes. Combine it with homemade marinara sauce, fontina cheese and fresh crusty rolls and it`s one of the best things I`ve ever had. True comfort food. Exactly what I needed at this time.
From my kitchen to yours,
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 250 ml milk
- 4 thick slices of soft bread, crusts removed, roughly chopped
- 500 grams or 1 pound of ground beef
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 4 crusty rolls
- 3 cups Pomodoro sauce, your favourite recipe or a good bottle variety
- 4 slices of Fontina cheese
- Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Remove from heat and cool down.
- Pour the milk over the bread in a mixing bowl and let soak for 2 minutes. In a separate large bowl, add in the beef, egg and Parmesan and season liberally. Squeeze out all the excess milk from the bread and add to another bowl with the cooled onion and garlic. Now combine all the ingredients with your hands until fully mixed, but don’t overwork so they won’t be tough. Divide the meat mixture into 12-16 meatballs.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Heat some oil in the original skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the meatballs, but don’t crowd the pan. Brown on all sides, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Put the meatballs in the oven or in a baking pan and spoon some of the pomodoro sauce over top, until covered. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through or reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
- Remove the meatballs from the oven.
- Place the bottom half of each roll on a baking tray and top with meatballs, about 3-4 each, pomodoro sauce and a slice of Fontina cheese. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the rolls just brown.
- Serves 2-4