Remember the “old days” when you could get a good pizza or sub from a local pizzeria that handmade everything from scratch, and the entire neighborhood not only knew when the doors were close to opening by the wonderful aromas that slowly wafted from block to block, but also personally knew the owners themselves? Those days seem to be almost gone with all of the quickie “30 minutes or less” pizza “shops” opening on about every other corner peddling commercially made products that don’t even resemble homemade by a LONG shot. A pizza on your doorstep in 30 minutes is no pizza. Nor are subs or anything else you could possibly want that has an authentic, old-world taste and handmade from scratch. To make a great sub, it starts with the bread you’re going to serve it on first. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make homemade, or partially homemade rolls, but do at least make them semi-homemade or purchase rolls from your local bakery and support small businesses in your community. “Big business” hoagie rolls are mostly fluff and no stuff and won’t hold up well for a hearty sandwich when filled with nothing but preservatives and air. I sometimes make mine from scratch, and sometimes use a frozen bread dough that I thaw overnight, cut into pieces, let rise and bake myself. Even this cheater step is so much better than what your average mega grocery store carries! Once you make your own rolls, you won’t want anything else!
*The above rolls were the only thing that I cheated on this time for this. I used frozen bread dough for those made out of 2 loaves. Each thawed loaf was cut into 3 pieces, shaped, risen, basted with garlic butter, and baked with a little seasoning salt and pepper sprinkled on top. Just wrap the frozen loaves with plastic wrap and thaw in the fridge overnight and you’re house will smell like a BAKERY the next day when you prepare and pop these into the oven! It’s at least better than over-priced, store-bought rolls that end up a wet, soggy mess. These are sturdy and hold up to even the meanest, overloaded subs! But by all means, make your own homemade rolls from your own recipe when you have the necessary ingredients on hand and just a bit of extra time.
Next, and the most important thing about a meatball sub, is of course, the meatballs! DON’T buy those nasty, rubbery, golf ball-sized, super ball-bouncy frozen meatballs. Just don’t do it. I had them once at an “event” and was horrified at not only the “weird texture”, but the taste was something I wish I could permanently erase from my memory. Why anyone would buy these on purpose is beyond me. I’d rather do a shot of Pepto, which is what you’ll need after consuming this “mystery meat”. Handmade meatballs are silly easy, fun to make and take no time at all. I prefer a 50/50 mixture of lean ground beef and italian sausage so that it doesn’t end up too fatty, holds together well, and still has a nice italian sausage flavor. See how nice these look even prior to baking?!
And even better after! And you will NOT BELIEVE how wonderful these smell while baking…omg…!!!!!!!!!!
You can add whatever kind of pizza toppings you would normally have on your pizza for this sub, but we’ve found that simply garden fresh bell peppers, pepperoni and onions are really all that is needed to make for a spectacular pizza-style meatball sub and not too difficult to manage to eat. If you add too many toppings, you’ll just end up with a mess, and the star of the show should be the meatballs anyways, and anything else should just be a “compliment”. So, basically, just add a few of your top favorite toppings.
I sautéed our veggies in a nice blend of herbs and spices, garlic and a little EVOO, and piled all on top of our fresh baked rolls with semi-homemade pizza sauce! You can whip up my sauce in seconds, or you can use a jar of your favorite. But why stop at the sauce? The sauce is very important, too. I also prefer a fresh mozzarella to bags of shredded faux mozz, but use what you prefer. Some of the shredded white Italian blends also really work very well. Fresh mozzarella takes longer to melt, though, so keep that in mind.
Watch carefully while under the broiler! Bread can go from completely un-toasted to burnt, call the fire department smoking, in just a matter of seconds. I do mine in my wall oven under the broiler that has a low, medium and high setting. I start it at low to soften the cheese, then hit it on medium to get a better melt while watching the top bun for any burning on the edges. Just watch carefully.
My hubby’s came out a bit prettier than mine, lol! I let him enjoy his while I took mine outside to play in the heat to try and get a better shot…uhm…though mine wasn’t “the pretty one”, and looked silly with “stripes” of cheese that managed to sink between the meatballs, I KNOW it tasted very bit as good! Incredibly good. So good that he swears there will be no more EVER ordering a meatball sub again. Yay. I think….no seriously!!! YAY!!! These just cannot be beat. Check them out for yourselves! And SO much less expensive and healthier because you control what it is made out of and what goes on top as well as the wonderful bread it’s served on! Just plan ahead and go for it!!!
Mine…my silly looking sub….with the meatball “stars” and the mozzarella “stripes” all ready for the 4th!! (I cannot believe I just said that…) But just know they’re GOOD!!!
And my hub’s that lasted all of about 5 minutes!!! He was one HAPPY, happy man! 😉
Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and this is soon made at your own, old-fashioned pizza parlor! 😉
HANDMADE PIZZERIA-STYLE MEATBALL SUBS with PEPPERONI, BELL PEPPERS, ONIONS & FRESH MOZZARELLA CHEESE
Makes 4-6″ subs with 3 meatballs , or 3-8″subs with 4 meatballs
1/2 lb. lean ground beef, broken up well
1/2 lb. mild or sweet ground Italian sausage, broken up well
1/3 cup italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, Kraft canned kind ok
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 1/2 tsp. dried minced onions
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/4 cup milk
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
Rest of ingredients:
1 small green bell pepper, large dice or julienne
1 small red bell pepper, large dice or julienne
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1-2 Tbl. EVOO
pinch each of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 stick butter
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups pizza sauce, homemade or store-bought
20 slices good pepperoni
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced
4 Tbl. finely grated parmesan cheese
3-4 hoagie or small sub rolls, homemade, semi-homemade or bakery-style
For Meatballs: In large bowl, mix all ingredients WELL with hands. Pat into a mound, divide into fourths, and make 3 large meatballs out of each section totaling 12. Place onto sprayed or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30-32 minutes. Remove from sheet with spoon scraping away any fat and place onto plate. Cover and set aside.
While meatballs are baking, sauté peppers and onion in EVOO and next 5 ingredients until crisp-tender. Set aside.
Melt butter with minced garlic. Set aside.
To assemble and finish: Split homemade or store-bought rolls with serrated bread knife and place open-faced onto foil-lined baking sheets. (Be careful not to cut making bottom half too thin. The top should be thinner.) Drizzle all insides well with melted garlic butter, top each side with plenty of sauce. Place meatballs and pepper mixture onto bottom side. Place pepperoni slices across top side. Top meatball side with lots of fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle both sides with parmesan cheese. Place into oven on Low Broil until cheese melts and bread is lightly toasted watching CLOSELY so that you don’t burn your bread. Close top over and remove from sheets with a spatula or pie server to serving plates. Serve hot! (Cut in half with a sharp knife if desired.)