My latest recipe takes on a Bronx Italian Deli sandwich classic, the Meatball Sub. Forget about any other chef's recipe - mine whacks the competition, as theirs belong as buoys floating in the East River!
Meatballs made of ground beef and pork sausage typically make for a heavy Italian meal, but I lighten things up by using budget-priced ground turkey. And I add plenty of flavor with Italian herbs and dried Parmesan cheese.
We don't have many Italian Delis in L.A., but I am fortunate to be recently working near one, Bay Cities Italian Deli (click here), on 1517 Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica. It has an expansive deli case with all kinds of prepared pasta salads, cooked lasagna, and deli sandwiches made with fresh baked bread.
The bread for my Meatball Sub uses a great 99c Only Store find -- the Mexican rolls called Bolillos. (Grill them one minute for a crunchy crust.) The 99c Only Store usually has one-pound tubes of ground turkey in the frozen deli case, and most regular groceries sell the same kind of ground turkey for just over a dollar. French rolls also make a good sandwich bread, but you can use any type of firm dinner rolls.
For this recipe, I make a tomato sauce from scratch, but you can use any favorite sauce from a jar, can or box.
So try out The 99 Cent Chef's Meatball Sub - a recipe any NYC Italian mama would be proud to serve, and Buon appetito!
Ingredients for Meatballs (makes 4 sandwiches)
1/2 cup of bread crumbs - or crumble a slice of any bread you have on hand.
2 tbsp. of dried Parmesan - optional.
2 tbsp. of milk
1 tbsp. total of dried Italian herbs - parsley, basil and/or oregano. I included fresh basil.
Pepper to taste - I left out salt, as dried Parmesan has plenty for me.
1 tbsp. of oil for cooking.
4 bread rolls for sandwiches - Italian, Mexican, French or regular dinner rolls. I found 5 Mexican Bolillos rolls for 99.99 cents - which have an extra crunchy crust when grilled.
Optional to add sliced or grated cheese for final sub assembly - provolone, mozzarella or any cheese you like.
Directions for Meatballs
In a large pan add tablespoon of oil over medium heat. In a large bowl add ground turkey - pour off any liquid. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients. Mix well and form into two-inch balls (the meatball should not be too large or you will never wrap your mouth around the sub). Add each meatball to heated pan as you form it. Brown a couple sides of each meatball, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside after they are all browned - don't worry about cooking them all the way through, they will soon be simmering in tomato sauce.
Meatball Tomato Sauce
*1 large (about 1 lb., 12 ounce) can of tomato sauce - okay to use whole or chopped tomatoes. Any type that is on sale, and with any pre-added herbs and mushrooms.
1/2 chopped onion and bell pepper
1 tbsp. of chopped garlic
1/2 cup of white or red wine - for extra flavor, optional. Okay to use a chicken or beef bouillon cube.
1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs - including basil, parsley, and/or oregano. I used fresh garden basil and dried oregano.
Directions for Tomato Sauce
Final Cooking Directions
Add meatballs to tomato sauce, cover and cook over low heat for about half an hour. Uncover and cook until sauce is reduced by half and thickened, about another 10 minutes.
*If you are doing a simple sauce without veggies, then cook canned tomato sauce with meatballs uncovered until sauce thickens, about 10-20 minutes. Turn off heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes -- so you don't burn yourself with the first bite!
I like to toast the bread. Assemble the meatball sub: spread some tomato sauce on sliced (toasted) bun, add a few meatballs (I fit three per bun), and top with mozzarella (or any cheese). If you like extra melted cheese, then pop sandwich into a preheated 350 degree oven, or toaster oven, for a minute.