The Best Meatballs With Sauce

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I’m getting hungry just writing about these! I had a craving last winter for a meatball sub. You might call it something else, depending on where you’re from. Submarine, Grinder, Hoagie, and Hero are some of the ones I’ve heard. I poked around online comparing various recipes and settled on this one, adapted from Serious Eats. It’s not by any means a quick recipe, but it’s worth every single minute. As with most of their dishes, it’s absolutely delicious.

The recipe is proportioned for use over pasta, which is to say there’s plenty of sauce. If you’re using your meatballs for sandwiches like I did, you’ll find yourself with lots of leftover sauce. This is a good thing! I portioned it into zip-top bags and froze it, to be used later on spaghetti and in Cheater’s Chicken Parmesan (post coming sometime in the future.) 

Ingredients:

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3 slices of bread

⅓ cup (80 ml) buttermilk, plus extra if needed

1 large onion

12 cloves garlic

2 oz. (56 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

½ cup (8 tablespoons, about 10 g) loosely packed parsley leaves

2 large eggs

4 teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal or Penzeys) 

2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1¼ lbs. (565 g) ground pork, no more than 85% lean

1 lb. (454 g) ground beef, no more than 85% lean

¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

3 (28-oz/800 g) cans crushed tomatoes

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (“crushers”)

1 sprig fresh basil

Preparation: 

1.) Remove the crusts from the bread; discard or reserve for another use. Tear the slices into several smaller pieces and place in the bowl of a stand mixer. 

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2.) Pour the buttermilk over the bread pieces. Toss to coat, repeating every few minutes until the bread has absorbed all the buttermilk. Mash with the back of a spoon until the mixture is a soggy, sloppy mess, and no dry spots remain. 

3.) Mince the onion, adding half of it to the bread mixture and reserving the rest. Finely mince the garlic, adding two-thirds of it to the bowl. Reserve the other third. Mince the parsley and add all of it to the bowl. Add the eggs, salt, pepper, and half the oregano.

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4.) Using the paddle attachment, start mixing at the lowest speed. As the mixture begins to come together, gradually increase the speed to medium-high. Mix until everything is thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed.

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5.) Add a third each of the beef and pork. Beat at medium-high until they are thoroughly mixed with the bread mixture.

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6.) Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the rest of the meats. Use your hands to very gently mix. You’re looking to evenly distribute the meat, breaking up any clumps, without over-handling. Keep the mixture loose; don’t pack. I like a food service glove for this. Set aside 6 oz (170 g) of the mixture.

7.) With the oven rack in the top slot, preheat the broiler. While it’s heating, form the rest of the meat mixture into balls about 1½ to 1¾ inches (4 to 5 cm) in diameter. Avoid packing them too tightly; press only as much as needed to keep the shape. Space them out evenly on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. There should be about sixteen meatballs. 

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8.) Broil for 6 – 7 minutes, or until the tops are evenly browned. Transfer to a covered bowl and refrigerate. 

9.) Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the reserved meat mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until meat is evenly browned and thoroughly cooked. 

10.) Add the reserved onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, just a few minutes. 

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11.) Add the remaining oregano and the crushers and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

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12.) Add the tomatoes and the basil sprig to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then transfer the sauce to your slow cooker and set it for 6 to 10 hours on low heat. 

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13.) Towards the end of the cook time, add the meatballs into the sauce, gently pressing them down to submerge. Serious Eats advises adding them for the last 30 minutes of cooking, but my meatballs took an hour to cook thoroughly. Serve over pasta or on submarine sandwich rolls, with a shower of freshly grated parmesan. Freeze any leftover sauce for use at another time. 

 

 

mbsNutritionLabel

Meatballs With Sauce

Ingredients

3 slices of bread

⅓ cup (80 ml) buttermilk, plus extra if needed

1 large onion

12 cloves garlic

2 oz. (56 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

½ cup (8 tablespoons, about 10 g) loosely packed parsley leaves

2 large eggs

4 teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal or Penzeys)

2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1¼ lbs. (565 g) ground pork, no more than 85% lean

1 lb. (454 g) ground beef, no more than 85% lean

¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

3 (28-oz/800 g) cans crushed tomatoes

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (“crushers”)

1 sprig fresh basil

Directions

1.) Remove the crusts from the bread; discard or reserve for another use. Tear the slices into several smaller pieces and place in the bowl of a stand mixer.

2.) Pour the buttermilk over the bread pieces. Toss to coat, repeating every few minutes until the bread has absorbed all the buttermilk. Mash with the back of a spoon until the mixture is a soggy, sloppy mess, and no dry spots remain.

3.) Mince the onion, adding half of it to the bread mixture and reserving the rest. Finely mince the garlic, adding two-thirds of it to the bowl. Reserve the other third. Mince the parsley and add all of it to the bowl. Add the eggs, salt, pepper, and half the oregano. 4.) Using the paddle attachment, start mixing at the lowest speed. As the mixture begins to come together, gradually increase the speed to medium-high. Mix until everything is thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed.

5.) Add a third each of the beef and pork. Beat at medium-high until they are thoroughly mixed with the bread mixture.

6.) Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the rest of the meats. Use your hands to very gently mix. You’re looking to evenly distribute the meat, breaking up any clumps, without over-handling. Keep the mixture loose; don’t pack. I like a food service glove for this. Set aside 6 oz (170 g) of the mixture.

7.) With the oven rack in the top slot, preheat the broiler. While it’s heating, form the rest of the meat mixture into balls about 1½ to 1¾ inches (4 to 5 cm) in diameter. Space them out evenly on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. There should be about sixteen meatballs.

8.) Broil for 6 – 7 minutes, or until the tops are evenly browned. Transfer to a covered bowl and refrigerate.

9.) Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the reserved meat mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until meat is evenly browned and thoroughly cooked.

10.) Add the reserved onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, just a few minutes.

11.) Add the remaining oregano and the crushers and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

12.) Add the tomatoes to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then transfer the sauce to your slow cooker. Add the basil sprig, and set the cooker for 6 to 10 hours on low heat.

13.) Towards the end of the cook time, add the meatballs into the sauce, gently pressing them down to submerge. Serious Eats advises adding them for the last 30 minutes of cooking, but my meatballs took an hour to cook thoroughly. Serve over pasta or on submarine sandwich rolls, with a shower of freshly grated parmesan. Freeze any leftover sauce for use at another time.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s what I planned to
    Make for dinner tonight!

    Liked by 2 people

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