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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Meatball Sub

Nice enough, but you can make a meatball
sub that soars to new heights. Photo
courtesy Earl of Sandwich.

 

As popular as meatball submarine sandwiches are, they’re pretty ho-hum. Even if you make the tastiest meatballs and marinara sauce, there’s still room for improvement.

Today‘s tip: Play around with different ingredients until you create your meatball sub masterpiece. You can turn the search into a build-your-own party buffet for the Final Four, Memorial Day, Father’s Day or just because it’s party time.

Your first decision: what to put in the meatballs (a basic meatball recipe is below). Every ingredient counts, as does the quality of the meat and cheese.

  • Meat: beef, chicken, pork, pork-beef blend, turkey or vegetarian.
  • Meatball filling: bread crumbs or rice, onion, garlic, heat (crushed red pepper flakes, minced jalapeno), herbs (chopped parsley and/or cilantro, rosemary, thyme).
  • Cheese: Argentine Sardo, grated Asiago, cotija, grana padano, Parmesan/Parmigiano Reggiano*, Pecorino Romano, Sbrinz or other hard cheese.
  •  

    Next decision: bread and toppings. Beyond the supermarket-variety “hero rolls,” consider:

  • Bread: baguette, garlic bread made on long rolls, semolina rolls…or think outside the elongated shape and pick up any good rolls offered by local bakers.
  •  
    Next, what to layer atop the meatballs:

  • Cheese: crumbled goat cheese, shredded Gruyère or mozzarella (room temperature or melted under the broiler), grated Parmesan/Parmigiano Reggiano, sliced Provolone or Fontina.
  • Greens: arugula, shredded lettuce.
  • Heat: cracked red pepper, pickled or sliced fresh jalapeños (in addition to what you may have put into the meatball mix).
  • Herbs: chopped fresh basil, cilantro, parsley; dried oregano.†
  • Sauce: marinara, mushroom gravy, Parmesan cream sauce (recipe below), pesto, spicy Bolognese.
  • Garnishes: bacon strips, beans, caramelized onions, giardiniera, fried egg, sliced gherkins or other pickles, mashed potatoes, onion rings, sliced olives, sliced tomatoes.
  •  
    *The difference: The product called Parmigiano Reggiano can only be made from local milk in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, where it is carefully monitored for quality by a supervising consortium. The related product made in the U.S. is called Parmesan. More about Parmigiano Reggiano.

    †Oregano is the exception to the rule: It tastes as good fresh or dried.

     

    You can also elect to “go global” with creations like these (and others that spring from your mind):

  • Greek Meatball Sub: dilled lamb meatballs with crumbled feta and yogurt sauce.
  • Indian Meatball Sub: curried lamb meatballs (add almonds and raisins), grated paneer cheese and raita sauce.
  • Hawaiian Meatball Sub: pork meatballs, sliced ham, pineapple slices, sweet gherkins.
  •  
    EASY MEATBALL TEMPLATE

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds ground meat or poultry
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs or panko
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  •  

    A glamorous and flavorful chicken meatball sub. Photo by Jill Chen | IST.

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 450°F.

    2. PLACE ground meat in a large mixing bowl and with your knuckles or a large wooden spoon, punch a well into the center of meat. Fill the well with all of the other ingredients. Mix all ingredients until well combined.

    3. DIVIDE mix into 4 parts, and divide each part into 4 meatballs. Place on a nonstick or parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 12 minutes. Cut one meatball open to check doneness.
     

    EASY PARMESAN SAUCE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup quality grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 dash ground nutmeg
  • 1 dash pepper or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MICROWAVE cream cheese, milk and cheese on medium (50%) for 6-8 minutes or until sauce is smooth. Stir every 2 minutes.

    3. BLEND in seasonings. Serve.

      





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