3 ratings

Meatball Sub Recipe

Everybody's favorite comfort food
Meatballs and Sauce

Meatballs and Sauce

These meatball subs (or heroes/hoagies, whatever you grew up calling them) are one of my favorite comfort foods. For some reason, I haven't been able to find a place near me that makes them the way I want, so this is my homemade version. You don't have to make them into a sub if you don't want. Just eat them the Italian way, on their own -- but maybe with a hunk of  bread to dip in the sauce.


For the tomato sauce:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 boxes Pomi-brand tomatoes, 1 chopped and 1 strained  (or you can use two 28-ounce cans of chopped tomatoes).
  • Pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs, preferably Panko
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup cold water
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying

For the sub:

  • 2 loaves of bread, either a crusty French baguette or rustic Italian bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh mozzarella


For the tomato sauce:

Heat the oil in a large and wide pan (you will need to fit the meatballs in here too) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until it starts to color. Immediately add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients and stir. Simmer, covered, for about 10-15 minutes while you prepare the meatballs.

For the meatballs:

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the oil and mix with your hands (making sure not to overhandle the meat). Form the meat into 2-inch wide balls and set aside on a plate. In another pan, heat the oil over medium heat.

Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes per batch total. Make sure not to crowd the meatballs, there should be about an inch of space between them. Set the browned meatballs on a paper towel to drain.

When all are cooked, add to the sauce and simmer, lowering the heat to medium, for about 30 minutes. If the sauce looks thick, you can add a 1/2 cup of water when you add the meatballs. Adjust seasoning as needed.

For the subs:

About 5 minutes before the sauce and meatballs are finished, slice the bread to make an open-faced sandwich, drizzle some olive oil on top and toast until lightly browned. Spoon 1 or 2 meatballs into each sandwich, rip up a few pieces of mozzarella with your hands to top and garnish with a little parsley. Enjoy! (It's gonna be messy!)