Saturday, March 20, 2010

Boy Food/Meatball Subs

I haven't figured out why the notion of a girl's night usually conjures up images of cute little PJs, homemade facials and pillow fights. Sorry for the bad news, but reality is far from that; most 'girls nights' I have are neither called that nor do they involve any of this allegedly girly behavior. Take the other night for example, a few of my friends and I got together to eat meatball subs, watch The Hurt Locker, burp and act totally ungirly. In my experience this is much more honest picture of reality; girl's nights are an opportunity to relax and be yourself and most importantly, a chance to enjoy somewhat sloppy, messy food without caring about the sauce on your chin or the crumbs on your lap.

In this vein, I can confirm that homemade meatball subs are the ideal messy food to indulge in with girlfriends and in our case the casual, homey food was the perfect complement to an intense and suspenseful movie. The idea for meatball subs actually came to me when I was in a Subway with two friends the other day; one of them told me that she had always wanted to try a meatball sub. I begged her to let me make them rather than letting her get one at Subway or any other commercial enterprise. I knew that my own version would be far superior in flavor and quality and I couldn't bear to let my friend scar her taste buds with a commercial version of this classic Italo-American dish.

I don't know about my friends, but these subs far exceeded my expectations and I think that a huge part of that is because I did not skimp on a single component. Hoagie rolls were turned into garlic bread before being smothered with huge meatballs and a rich butter and onion spiked tomato sauce. A hearty portion of melting provolone dripped over the meatballs and onto the bread sealing these sizable sandwiches. The meatballs were rich in flavor but managed not be too dense thanks to the addition of ricotta and some milk soaked bread. The bread got soft and soggy in areas where it absorbed the sauce but it also maintained its crunch and distinct garlic bread flavors in other parts. These subs were definitely a substantial meal, and although we ate them for a 'girl's night' they definitely classify as boy food. They are one of those dishes that sometimes makes me wish I was a college boy who could consume anything and somehow manage to maintain a buff body. In other words, they are not something that those of us who worry about our thighs and tummies usually dare to eat. The other night, however, they were worth every calorie (and flavor) laden bite.

Meatball Subs
(yield 4 large subs)

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
3 slices of white bread soaked in a 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons minced parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with baking spray.
2) In the bowl with the soaking bread, add the ricotta, the egg, the parsley, the salt and pepper. Stir, mashing against the sides of the bowl until it looks like a paste.
3) Thoroughly mix the 'paste' into the meat with your hands, trying not to overmix.
4) Form the meatballs into about 12 meatballs (approx. 3 heaping tablespoons each) and place on the prepared baking sheet.
5) Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.

Fort the tomato sauce:
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

28 ounces (800 grams) whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if you can find them)*
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

1) Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.
2) Add the meatballs to the sauce, making sure they are coated. Keep at a simmer over low heat and proceed.

•You can stop here, let the sauce and meatballs cool and freeze them for future use or reheat them and continue with the following steps within 2 to 3 days.

For the subs:
1 portion tomato sauce with meatballs (above)
4 large hoagie rolls, split in half
4 tablespoons butter, softnened
2 large cloves minced garlic
8 slices of provolone

1) Preheat the broiler. Keep the sauce and meatballs over the heat at a simmer.
2) Mix the butter and minced garlic and spread onto the rolls, dividing evenly between the 4. Broiler these until crusty and golden about 2 minutes.
3) On the bottom half of the rolls place 3 meatballs and lay 2 slices of cheese over them. Place these in the oven for 30 seconds, until the cheese melts.
4) Divide the remaining sauce over the top of the melted cheese. Cover with the top half of the roll and serve immediately.


pdc said...

Yummy , Concetta would be very proud of you as well as la Nonna