Around my house, if you can turn it into a sandwich, it is that much better than the original.
Take spaghetti and meatballs. I would be happy with the original, with a good sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. However, my fiance. Casey, is a pasta hater (see pasta wars), and will pick the meatballs out of the spaghetti.
For whatever reason, sticking the meatballs between two slices of bread makes it all better, and he can’t get enough. I don’t really understand it. Pasta and bread have a similar flavor, albeit a different texture.
But no matter — meatball sandwiches are great. Holding the crunchy roll between your hands — you have to use two hands — all the while, the sweet-smelling sauce is gushing out of all sides, melted cheese trailing after each bite.
I like to put on a pot of meatballs early in the day if I know I’ll be busy in the evening. Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to Pilates after work. These are cook-ahead days. I can just make the meatballs, leave them on the stove, and as people get hungry they can make up a sandwich.
This is the first time I’ve used a veal/pork/ground beef combo for meatballs. The meatballs have a much lighter texture with this mixture, as opposed to using straight ground beef.
I guess Casey is on to something. Everything’s better in a sandwich.
Ina Garten’s Meatballs and Marinara Sauce
Courtesy Food Network
- French rolls
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 pound ground veal
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
- 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 extra-large egg, beaten
- Vegetable oil
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork (or your hands).
Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs.
Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
Toast the French rolls in the oven until crispy on the outside. Place 3 to 4 meatballs with some sauce on the French roll and top with mozzarella cheese.
Obviously, this works just as well with spaghetti. In lieu of making a meatball sandwich, just substitute the bread for 1 1/2 pounds of cooked spaghetti.
When you are turning the meatballs, be very careful not to break them up, as they are pretty fragile. It helps to divide the meatballs into two batches so you have room to move them around without smashing them. Also, when you transfer the meatballs into the sauce to simmer, do so one at a time by hand or with a spoon so that they don’t break up.
I did not have crushed tomatoes for the sauce, only diced tomatoes. All I did was follow the instructions the same with the diced tomatoes, but I used an immersion blender after the sauce was done and blended it a little bit. I left the sauce a little chunky because I like it that way. So there.