Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Slow-Cooker Italian Meatball Subs

Why spend more than six hours making sub sandwiches? Because you won’t find more succulent, tender, tasty meatballs on a bun if you don’t. At least, that’s what I discovered.

Start the meatball mixture with a traditional milk-soaked bread binder, add ground beef, pork, and all the classic ingredients, then slowly braise the meatballs in a slow-cooker with a no-fuss, easy marinara to result in mouth-watering tenderness and savory tomato taste.

The meatballs flavor the sauce and the sauce tenderizes the meatballs. One perfect union.

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup soft, fresh bread cubes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup white chopped onions
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed tomatoes (from a 28-oz can)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 sub buns or hoagie rolls, centers hollowed out
  • 8 very thin slices provolone cheese
Hollowed Out Bun
Very Thinly Sliced Provolone
  1. Place the bread cubes in a small bowl and pour the milk over them. Press the bread down to submerge and let soak 15 minutes.
Soak the Bread Cubes in Milk
  1. Place the ground beef, ground pork, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl.
  2. Pour off the excess milk from the bread cubes and squeeze the bread until no longer dripping. Add to the bowl with the beef mixture and mix lightly to combine all.
  3. Form the mixture into 12 equal meatballs (about 1-3/4 inches in diameter) and place on a large plate. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  4. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the meatballs and cook, turning until lightly browned on all sides, 4-5 minutes total.
  5. Transfer the meatballs to a slow-cooker. Do not wipe out the pan.
Meatball Mixture 
Meatballs Ready to Chill 
Meatballs Beginning to Brown 
Browned Meatballs
Transfer the Meatballs to a Slow-Cooker
  1. If there is less than 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet, add a little more. Add the onion and remaining 2 chopped garlic cloves and sauté 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to simmer, 3-4 minutes.
  2. Transfer the marinara to the slow-cooker with the meatballs. Cover and cook the meatballs and sauce on low for 4-1/2 hours. Uncover and cook 30 minutes longer.
Onion and Garlic 
Marinara Beginning to Simmer 
Marinara Added to Meatballs 
Slow-Cooked Meatballs in Marinara
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Lay the hollowed out buns cut-side up on the pan. Fill each bottom half with 3 meatballs and a generous amount of marinara. Top each with 2 slices of provolone cheese, folded in half.
  3. Bake until the cheese is melted and the buns are just beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes.
Buns Ready for Filling 
Meatball and Sauce Filled Buns 
Ready to Bake 
Baked Subs
Remove, close the sandwiches, and serve hot. (Slice in half, if desired.)

Slow-Cooker Italian Meatball Subs

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