Meatballs may not seem like typical barbecue food, but these meatballs—slathered with sweet and tangy sauce and topped with charred onions—might just become a regular on your cookout menu.
We start by seasoning the meatballs from the inside out, mixing sautéed onions, garlic, and barbecue rub into the ground pork and beef chuck. Before forming, we make sure to add just enough egg to keep the meatballs moist and just enough bread crumbs to keep them from falling apart.
When it's time to grill, you can maximize that smoky barbecue flavor by adding a chunk of smoking wood directly over the coals. (Oak and hickory will serve you well.) Place the meatballs on the grill, and, once you see some good browning, coat them with a generous layer of Stubb's Original Bar-B-Q Sauce. When that bakes down, apply another layer, then move the meatballs to the hot side of the grill for that delicious caramelized char.
Once the meatballs are cooked through and golden, all you need to do is assemble the heroes. Nestle three meatballs into each hero roll, then top with grilled red onions and lots of cheese. Place the sandwiches on the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until all the cheese is melted and the bread is warm and crusty. Finish the heroes with some scallions, and serve as soon as you can.
Our suggestion? Cook up some extra meatballs, and buy more rolls than you think you need. Between the rich barbecue flavors, smoky sauce, and gooey cheese, these heroes will be gone before you know it.
Barbecue Meatball Heroes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Serves 6
For the Meatballs:
1 tablespoon (15ml) canola or vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped white onion (about 1 medium onion)
2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic
2 teaspoons of your favorite barbecue rub
3/4 pound (340g) ground beef chuck, at least 20% fat
3/4 pound (340g) ground pork shoulder
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (about 2 1/2 ounces; 70g)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5g) kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Sandwiches:
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices and skewered horizontally
Vegetable or canola oil, for brushing onion slices
1 cup (240ml) Stubb's Original Bar-B-Q Sauce, plus more for serving
4 hero rolls
4 ounces (115g) mild cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup finely sliced scallions
1. To Make the Meatballs: Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and barbecue rub and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer onion mixture to a medium bowl. Add beef, pork, bread crumbs, eggs, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, mix until thoroughly combined. Roll out meat mixture into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
2. Light 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of charcoal grate. Place wood chunk directly on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Brush onion slices all over with oil and place on hot side of grill. Cook, flipping occasionally, until onions have charred and softened, about 7 minutes. Transfer onions to a cutting board, remove skewers, and roughly chop.
3. Place meatballs on cool side of grill, cover, and grill until almost cooked through and lightly browned all over, about 15 minutes. Brush meatballs with barbecue sauce, cover grill, and cook for 5 minutes more. Brush meatballs with sauce again, move to hot side of grill, and cook until lightly charred all over.
4. Transfer meatballs to hero rolls and top with grilled onions and cheese. Place heroes on cool side of grill, cover, and cook until cheese has melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Top each sandwich with scallions and serve immediately with extra barbecue sauce on the side.