I must have been Italian in a past life….Italian food is my favorite. Most Sundays are for revisiting my past life, this is the day that I linger in my kitchen and cook my family’s favorite Italian pasta dishes. However, this Sunday I decided on forgoing the pasta and instead, cooked these amazing gooey mozzarella meatball sandwiches.
Oh, this isn’t your ordinary meatball sandwich, take a bite out of these delicious moist meatballs and out oozes melted mozzarella. A delightful surprise to whom ever you serve this hot sandwich to. My family devoured them and my husband couldn’t get enough helpings of the simple tomato basil sauce that the meatballs were quickly braised in.
Use left over baguette or bread and soak in water to moisten before starting your meatball mixture. The bread helps to hold the meat mixture together when forming the meatball.
I cut the mozzarella balls in half and my meatballs still turned out large in size. Sample with a flattened meat patty and cheese ball to determine the size of meatballs you desire.
Summer is the best time of year to take advantage of the warm evenings and serve dinner outdoors. This Sunday night, we enjoyed our meatball sandwiches on the patio. The early evening was still lit up by an orange sunset and a calm breeze. I start to get a little sad when thinking that summer is almost over.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and for a simple rustic Italian dinner, try this scrumptious melting mozzarella meatball sandwich.
Melting Mozzarella Meatball Sandwich
For the meatballs
8 oz stale baguette, sliced
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1-pound ground beef
1-pound ground pork
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1-teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
10 to 20 bocconcini di mozzarella cheese, based on size – larger sized mozzarella can be sliced
Lay bread slices evenly in an 8 x 8 pan and barely cover with cold water. Soak for 1 minute on each side, then removing and squeezing dry. Tear bread into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the basil, beef, pork, cheese, eggs, salt, and pepper. Mix together with clean hands.
Form the mixture into twenty small patties, 2 inch in diameter. Lay a single bocconcini ball on each patty and then mold the meat mixture around the cheese to form meatballs. Place meatballs on a cooking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You can prepare meatballs a day ahead if desired.
For the sauce:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce can roma style tomatoes crushed
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, over low heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, basil, red pepper, salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer sauce, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring often.
For assembling the dish:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 to 8 French or sourdough rolls
To assemble the dish:
In large frying pan, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Brown the meatballs, a few at a time, turning them from time to time to sear all around. Be careful not to crowd the pan, which will reduce the temperature and prevent a good searing. Transfer browned meatballs at they are finished to a large plate and continue until all of the meatballs are browned.
Add browned meatballs to sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
Toast rolls if desired and add meatballs and additional sauce. Enjoy!