One of my favorite sandwiches is the warm, sloppy, melty, meatball sub (sometimes called a hoagie). It’s Italian-American comfort food at it’s finest with beef meatballs slathered in sauce and broiled until the mozzarella cheese topping melts and oozes down the sides of the meatballs. Coming from New Jersey this was always one of my favorite lunches on cold winter days.
Ground pork typically comes from minced pork shoulder meat and is incredibly versatile. I like the flavor using both pork and beef adds to the meatball sub recipe.
I use a blend of 80% lean/ 20% fat ground beef. The fat adds flavor to the meatballs while also keeping them moist. A large portion of the fat renders out as the meatballs cook.
I use plain breadcrumbs rather than Italian in this recipe since the meatballs are seasoned with fresh herbs like oregano and parsley. I love making my own breadcrumbs out of leftover stale bread. Simply add to a food processor or blender and pulse until ground. They can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.
The breadcrumbs are soaked in milk before they’re added to the meatball mixture to keep them moist as they cook.
The cheese helps to hold meatballs together while adding a flavorful, gooey element.
The meatballs are seasoned with fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley, oregano, Calabrian chilies, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Calabrian chilies are little red Italian chili peppers that pack a punch and once preserved in oil (as used here), they are smoky, salty, fruity and spicy all at the same time.
The sub rolls or hoagie rolls are sliced horizontally and piled with the ingredients. Look for rolls with a crusty exterior. As a result as the bread absorbs some of the sauce without losing its structural integrity and becoming mushy in these meatball subs.
The tomato sauce is flexible in this recipe. I use my recipe for marinara sauce. It can easily be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve with the meatballs. Swap with your favorite store-bought sauce as a shortcut. Warm in a saucepan over medium heat before assembling the sandwiches.
I use a combination of low-moisture part-skim mozzarella with provolone cheese for a melty layer over the meatballs tossed in sauce. The provolone adds a nutty flavor profile that complements the mild mozzarella cheese. The sandwiches are boiled until the cheese is melted.
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