Dinner Tonight: Meatball Sub Recipe

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Dinner Tonight: Meatball Sub Recipe

I'm not sure where the spark came from, but sometime last week I set forth on a mission to create a meatball sub. I figured this would be laughably easy. From what I could tell, there were only four elements: meatballs, sauce, bun, and cheese. But most recipes waste well over 12 ingredients on meatballs alone, which put them out of the Dinner Tonight territory before I even began. My goal then became to make a tasty meatball sub in less than an hour using as few ingredients as possible. And I needed to make the meatballs from scratch. For help I consulted the Joy of Cooking, which cut down the meatball ingredients without compromising loads of flavor.

The sauce stumped me for a while--until I just picked up a freshly made batch from my local market. I'd suggest using your favorite simple tomato sauce. The meatballs are the real star.

Though I had to cut back on a few ingredients, the sub sure didn't taste like scrimping was involved. It's a mammoth sandwich, nearly impossible to contain in a single bun. Sauce drips off the side, and the luscious meatballs attempt to roll out whenever possible. After mingling with the meat, the sauce becomes rich and luscious and the cheese somehow brings the crazy sandwich all together.

  • Yield:4 to 6


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 ounces Parmesan, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 28 ounces tomato sauce
  • 6 Italian rolls
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced provolone


  1. 1.

    Toss the garlic, parsley, Parmesan, and onion into a food processor. Process until grated. Dump into a large bowl. Add the ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, and the egg. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients together with your hands until evenly distributed.

  2. 2.

    Pour the sauce into a large pot. Turn the heat to medium-low.

  3. 3.

    Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of the meatball mixture and form it into a small ball. Repeat with the rest of the meat. Pour the oil into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add only enough meatballs to fit in a single layer. Cook the meatballs until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. It took me two rounds to cook all of them. When they are all done, add the meatballs to the tomato sauce.

  4. 4.

    Cook the meatballs in the sauce for about 20 minutes.

  5. 5.

    Preheat the broiler. Stuff four to five meatball into a roll and ladle on a little extra sauce. Top with a few slices of cheese. Stick underneath the broiler and cook until the cheese melts, about 30 seconds. Serve with extra sauce, and salt to taste.