Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Italian Meatball Sub

     Italian Meatballs!
     I worked as an apprentice in a great Italian pasta restaurant when I first started getting serious about professional cooking.  The restaurant was located in a shopping plaza.  I cooked lunch for the customers and then at 2:00 in the afternoon, the restaurant closed till 4:30 so we could prepare the food for the dinner hours.
     Afternoons were spent making bread, sauces, fresh pasta, salads and baking meatballs.  I was making over 200 fresh meatballs every two days.  The owner was a great Italian chef and his meatball recipe was phenomenally good!
     The aroma of the garlic, herbs and cheese in the meatballs was very aromatic when baking.  The air ventilation system in the kitchen would send the strong meatball aroma from the restaurant kitchen out to the plaza.  Shoppers in the plaza could smell the enticingly great meatball aroma drifting everywhere in the open air!  People would walk up to the restaurant and actually pound on the door while begging to come in for something to eat, even though we were closed till the dinner shift started.  The mouth watering aroma of the roasting Italian meatballs was like a customer magnet!

     Honestly, on some afternoons when the meatballs were roasting, it was kind of like a zombie apocalypse movie.  If one can imagine the faces of drooling zombies with their faces pressed against the glass doors while looking into the restaurant, one can easily see what is meant by the comparison!
     Just like in a zombie movie, when the pounding on the locked glass doors started, the Sicilian restaurant owner would lift his head while doing the books then say, "Oh no! ... They are trying to get in again!  They are so hungry for my great food, that they are trying to tear the door off of the hinges!"
     When the noise of the rattling loose door became unbearable, this is when the owner told a waiter to let the meatball crazed customers in and only offer them Meatball Subs.  Sure enough, as soon as the customers walked in, they said, "What are you cooking?  The aroma smells so good!"  Then a waiter would respond by saying, "You mean the meatballs?  We are closed right now, but I can get you a Meatball Sub.  The meatballs just came out of the oven!"
     The waiter's response was enough to bring the customers to their knees in thanks and Meatball Sub sales were made.  The irresistible aroma of roasting meatballs in the afternoon at that shopping plaza was best advertising campaign that Italian restaurant had!

     Salsa di Pomodoro:
     Follow this link to the tomato sauce recipe in this website!
     • Salsa di Pomodoro

     Italian Meatballs:  
     This recipe yields 6 medium size meatballs!
     Step 1:  Place 1 pound of lean ground beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely minced garlic.
     Add 1/3 cup of finely minced onion.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of leaf oregano.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of basil.
     Add 3 tablespoons of finely minced Italian Parsley.
     Add about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.  (to taste)
     Add about 3 pinches of black pepper.  (to taste)
     Step 2:  Add 1 whisked egg.
     Add 3 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated imported Italian Parmigiana Cheese.
     Add 1/3 cup of fine ground plain Italian bread crumbs.
     Step 3:  Add 2 ounces of water soaked Italian bread pith that has been squeezed dry.  (Squeeze the water out of the soaked pith before adding.)
     Step 4:  Thoroughly mix the ingredients together, just like kneading bread dough.
     Step 5:  Scoop the meat mixture into medium size meatball portions.  (About 3 ounces to 3 1/2 ounces is a medium size meatball portion.)
     Step 6:  Wet your hands with water.
     Hand roll the meatballs, so they have a smooth round shape.
     Step 7:  Place the meatballs in a roasting pan that is lightly brushed with blended olive oil.
     Roast the meatballs in a 350ºF oven.
     *The pan will need to be removed from the oven once in a while, so the excess grease can be poured off.  The meatballs will need to be turned occasionally too.  Use a thin metal spatula to free the meatballs from the pan, so they can be turned over.
     Bake the meatballs, till they are fully cooked and lightly browned.  (Do not cook the meatballs for too long, or they will become dried out.  The meatballs should be juicy inside.)
     Step 8:  Set the meatballs aside and let them cool.
     The meatballs can be chilled for later use or served right away.

     Italian Meatball Sub:
     This recipe yields 1 small 6" Meatball Sub.
     Leaving the meatballs whole instead of chopping them is the classic way to present a Meatball Sub.  
     Step 1:  Heat 1 cup of the Salsa di Pomodoro in a sauce pot over medium low/low heat.
     Add 3 or 4 meatballs.
     Add 1 tablespoon of light chicken broth or water.
     Simmer the meatballs in the sauce, till they become hot.
     Step 2:  Split a 6" Italian sub roll open on one side.
     Place the sub roll on a baking pan.
     Place the meatballs on the sub roll.
     Spoon a generous amount of the tomato sauce from the pot over the meatballs onto the sub roll.
     Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of grated mozzarella cheese over the meatballs.
     Bake in a 400ºF oven till the cheese melts.  (Do not brown the cheese or it will taste bitter!)
     Step 3:  Place the meatball sub on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs and giardiniera.
     There is nothing better than a fresh baked Italian Meatball Sub!  The aroma of a great Meatball Sub can make anybody hungry!

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