Nov 1, 2012

The International Meatball Sandwich

The Classic Italian Meatball Sandwich
from Brick's Restaurant, Chicago, Illinois.
The Italian meatball sandwich is what dreams are made of, and is a classic here in the United States. Tender homemade meatballs nestled in a crusty loaf of Italian bread, slathered with tasty marinara sauce and crowned with lots of fresh melted mozzarella cheese, Mamma Mia! I love them, and I want one now. I haven't been able to find out how this yummy sandwich got started, but my guess is that it is a product of leftover spaghetti and meatballs that someone put between two pieces of bread, and ate while standing over the sink. Meatball sandwiches are a very personal thing, depending on where you live and what you like. As it turns out, variations of this sandwich are made with a huge variety of ingredients, and can be wrapped in many different types of bread. Basically though, meatball sandwiches are a filling comfort food to be enjoyed by yourself or with close friends, no matter where you live and what football game you are watching. I think every country should have a national meatball sandwich day to help celebrate this international dish.

Meatball Sandwich Recipes From Around The World:
Classic Italian Meatball Sandwich 

with "Mamma Mia" Marinara Sauce
Ingredients for marinara sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste
sugar, if needed

Ingredients for meatballs:
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 quarts marinara sauce
4 Hoagie rolls which can be found in most grocery stores, but you can make them yourself.
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, grated (or more if you like it cheesy)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions, garlic and salt, saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Stir in the basil leaves and season with Parmesan. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with sugar, salt and pepper, if needed. Note: This sauce makes 2 quarts, and can be made a day ahead of time then reheated. The sauce may be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.

Combine beef, pork, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, Parmesan, oregano, pepper, paprika and 2 tablespoons sauce in bowl. Shape meat mixture into 12 equal meatballs. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large skillet and brown meatballs, turning frequently until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add all of the browned meatballs to the marinara sauce, and simmer for about 1/2 hour. Arrange the meatballs in the roll, cover with sauce, top with mozzarella, and put on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under the heated broiler until cheese is melty and golden and bread is toasty around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Makes 4 messy, delicious servings.

Pineapple Meatball Sliders 

with Hawaiian Sweet Bread
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2/3 cup cracker crumbs or bread crumbs (plain)
1/3 cup minced onion
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar
13 ounces 1 can, pineapple tidbits, drained and reserve syrup
1/3 cup vinegar (apple cider)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup green pepper
King's Hawaiian Sweet Bread

Mix together beef, cracker crumbs, onion, egg, salt, ginger & milk. Shape mixture into 12, 1" balls (flatten balls slightly). Melt canola oil in large skillet. Saute meatballs until done, 10-15 minutes. Remove and keep warm in 200˚F oven. Pour fat from skillet, discard. Mix cornstarch and sugar. Whisk in reserved pineapple syrup, vinegar, and soy sauce until smooth. Pour into skillet, cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Add meatballs, tidbits and green pepper. Heat thoroughly. Serve one meatball on sweet Hawaiian dinner rolls topped with pineapple and green pepper. Makes 6 servings of 2 sliders each.

Jamaican Pork & Mango 
Meat Ball Sandwiches
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Caribbean jerk seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 pounds lean ground pork
3 teaspoon canola oil
4 large sub rolls, split & toasted
4 lettuce leaves
1 medium mango, peeled and sliced thin
4 sweet red pepper rings
4 Hoagie rolls which can be found in most grocery stores, but you can make them yourself.

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Crumble pork over the mixture and mix just until combined. Shape into 12 balls. In a large skillet, cook patties in oil over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until no longer pink. Serve on rolls with lettuce, mango slices and red pepper rings. Yield: 4 servings.

Italian Turkeyball Sandwich 
with Basil Cream Sauce
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 slices dried white bread, from a sandwich or big Italian loaf
1 cups milk
1 pound ground turkey meat
1 large egg, well beaten, with a pinch of salt
1 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup button mushrooms, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup golden raisins, plumped in warm water and drained
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet and cooled
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, or more as needed
1 cup canola oil, or more as needed

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 (10 ounce can) diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 Hoagie rolls which can be found in most grocery stores, but you can make them yourself.

Sauté onions in olive oil for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are wilted and slightly dry (but not colored). Let cool. In a shallow bowl, break up bread slices. Pour enough milk over to cover them and soak for 4 to 5 minutes. When the pieces are completely soft, squeeze out all the milk. Put turkey meat in a mixing bowl. Pour the beaten egg on top, sprinkle on the parsley, mushrooms, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Add the drained raisins and pine nuts to the meat with the cooled onions. Break up the clump of wet bread, spreading little bits over the meat. Now mix everything together with your hands. Spread the flour about 1/4-inch deep in the center of a baking sheet. Pour canola oil into a large, heavy skillet or sauté pan to a depth of at least 1/3-inch.  Scoop up a portion of meat with your fingers. Shape the turkey into a 2-inch ball. Drop the turkeyball onto the floured sheet, roll it around until coated, then place it on another baking sheet. Repeat this process until you have 12 turkeyballs. Set the skillet over high heat until the oil is very hot. With tongs, carefully transfer turkeyballs to the pan, as many as you can, leaving at least an inch or so between them. Cook for a minute or two, until they've started to brown on the bottom, then turn them continuously - watch out for oil spatters - until golden crusted on all sides, about 6 minutes. As they are done, transfer the fried balls onto a baking sheet. When all the meatballs are on the tray, sprinkle salt lightly over them. 

For the sauce: Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and next 3 ingredients. Sauté for 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Stir in tomatoes with chiles, basil and cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Add salt and taste. Put all of the turkeyballs in the sauce and simmer for 1/2 hour. Arrange the turkeyballs in the roll, cover with sauce, top with mozzarella cheese, and put on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under the heated broiler until cheese is melty and golden and bread is toasty around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes.. Makes 1 dozen, 2 inch turkeyballs, for 4 turkeyball sandwiches.

Swedish Meatball Flat Bread Sandwiches 
with Sweet Red Cabbage
Ingredients for red cabbage:
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds red cabbage, shredded
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 golden delicious apple, peeled, seeded, and shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients for Swedish meatballs:
3/4 cup milk
3 slices of day old bread, torn into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons of brown mustard
1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
butter for frying
pita bread, or other flat bread of your choosing. ("Tunnbrod" is a Swedish thin bread that is flavored with fennel or anise seeds, then baked on a griddle. It is typically used in this recipe).

In a pot, melt the butter, sauté the shredded red cabbage and sugar until soft over medium heat. Add the vinegar and shredded apple to the cabbage, with salt and pepper, stir to combine, and cook on low heat for 1 hour, stirring frequently. Add a little water if the cabbage mixture gets too dry. Taste for additional seasoning.

Next, put the milk in a bowl, and add the bread pieces. Stir, then let them rest for about ten minutes, then squeeze the milk out of the bread mixture. Saute the chopped onions until translucent, then add them to the bread. Next add the egg, allspice, cinnamon, mustard, meat, salt and pepper. Mix them together. Roll the mixture into small 1” meatballs. Then roll the meatballs in breadcrumbs.

Melt butter in a pan, fry the meatballs at medium temperature until golden brown. When ready, remove the meatballs from the pan. Heat pita bread, slice in half and open the bread into pockets. Add about 3 meatballs, and top with sweet red cabbage. Makes 8-10 servings. Njuta!

Klops (Polish Meatballs)
3 pounds ground round or chuck
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
2 eggs
5 slices of bread soaked in milk
1 larger or 2 medium chopped, sautéed onions
1 grated apple with skins

Mix everything together and form into small meat balls. Fry or boil. Serve hot with a mushroom gravy (recipe below). Makes 6 servings.

Polish creamed mushroom sauce (sos grzyby suszone)
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 large coarsely chopped onion
8 ounces fresh or canned (reserve liquid) sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon vegetable or chicken base
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Place dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour 2 cups boiling water over. Let steep 1/2 hour. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, saute onion in butter until caramelized. If using fresh mushrooms, add to the saucepan once the onions are translucent. Otherwise, place undrained canned mushrooms in the pan once the onions have fully caramelized.

Using your fingers, lift the dried mushrooms out of their soaking liquid and add to the pan with onions. Carefully add the soaking liquid to the pan, making sure not to disturb the sediment at the bottom. Add base, and salt and pepper to taste (if using canned mushroom liquid, you probably won't need to add any salt). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, fork blend 2 tablespoons flour into sour cream. Temper the sour cream by adding 3 ladles of hot mushroom liquid, 1 ladle at a time, and whisking until smooth. Slowly pour the tempered sour cream into the mushroom sauce, whisking constantly. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes until thickened and raw flour taste is cooked out. Makes 2 cups, double the recipe if you need more.

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