"I hate people who are not serious about their meals."

Oscar Wilde,
The Importance of Being Earnest

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Hero By Any Other Name

Until I came to the United States, I never imagined that a simple sandwich could have so many different names.  What I would have previously referred to as a 'sub' was now a hoagie, a grinder, a po-boy or a hero, depending on where it was coming from.  A little internet research tells me there are still more names for this creation that I've yet to discover in person.  While the etymology of all these different names is kind of interesting, I'm not going to go through all of them here. I understand that the term 'hero' derived from the large size of the sandwiches, a food writer remarking that "one must be a hero to eat such a sandwich".  However, me being a passionate sandwich maker and eater, (and a bit of a cornball) I prefer to think of the term in reference to the fact that a great sandwich can really save the day.  These meatball heros are no exception.  Filled with probably the best meatballs I've ever made, topped with marinara sauce and yummy melted mozzarella, they are truly heroic sandwiches indeed.

Meatball Heros
barely adapted from Guy Fieri

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced red onion
1 small red bell pepper (capsicum), minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (you can use any kind of milk you like, I used rice milk and it worked fine)
2 slices sourdough bread, crust removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces to equal 1 cup
1 pound/450g ground beef (80/20 fat content)
1 pound/450g ground pork
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons red chili flakes
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 egg, beaten

4 submarine rolls
1 cup marinara sauce (I used some of my mother-in-law's awesome sauce, you could use store bought or make your own. The original recipe linked above has a sauce recipe included.)
Mozzarella, sliced

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir through salt and cook until tender. Remove pan from heat and let cool.

Put the bread pieces into a bowl, pour milk over and let soak for 5 minutes. Remove the bread from the milk and squeeze out the excess liquid so the bread is moist but not soggy. Ok - time to get your hands dirty! In a large bowl, mix together beef, pork, soaked bread, cooled vegetable mixture, basil, oregano, parsley, pepper, chili flakes, grated Parmesan and egg. Roll into 2-inch balls.  I got 18 balls from my mixture. Add a tablespoon of oil to the same saute pan you used for the vegetables and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs (I did them in 2 batches), until firm, brown and cooked through.

To assemble the sandwiches, split the rolls lengthways down the centre, but not all the way through. Scoop out some of the bread on the insides so the meatballs can fit in nice and snugly.  Place 3 or 4 meatballs into each, top with approximately 1/4 cup of marinara sauce per roll, and finish off with a few slices of mozzarella cheese. Place under broiler (that's under the grill for any Aussies reading!) until the cheese is melted and golden brown.


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