Remember the "old days" where you could get a good pizza or sub from a local pizzeria that hand-made everything from scratch, and the whole neighborhood didn't just know when the doors were close to opening by the wonderful aromas that slowly waved from the block to block, but also personally known the owners themselves? These days seem to have almost disappeared with all the fast-paced "30 minutes or less" pizza "stores" opening around any other corner pad with commercially made products that don't even look like homemade by a LONG shot. A pizza just outside the door within 30 minutes is no pizza. Neither are subs or anything else you might want that has an authentic old-fashioned taste and handmade from scratch. To make a good sub, start with the bread you need to serve it first. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make homemade or partially homemade rolls, but at least make them half-homemade or buy rolls from your local bakery and support small businesses in your community. "Big business" hoagie rolls are mostly fluff and no stuff and don't hold up well to a solid 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 travel and bake myself. Even this scam step is so much better than what your average mega merchant carries! Once you've made your own rolls, you won't want anything else!
* The above rolls were the only thing that I cheated at this time for this. I used frozen bread dough for them made from 2 breads. Each thawed bread was cut into 3 pieces, shaped, roasted, cooked with garlic butter and baked with a little spice salt and pepper drizzled on top. Just wrapping the frozen bread with plastic wrap and thaw in the refrigerator overnight will make you smell like a BAKERY the next day when you prepare and pop these in the oven! At least it's better than expensive, store-bought rolls that end up with a wet, foggy mess. These are sturdy and hold up to themselves mostly, congested subs! But by all means, prepare your own homemade rolls from your own recipe when you have the necessary ingredients available and just a little extra time.
Next, and the most important thing about a meatball sub, of course, is meatballs! Don't buy those ugly, rubbery, golf ball-sized super-frozen frozen meatballs. Just don't do it. I once had them at an "event" and was horrified at not only the "weird texture" but the taste was something I wish I could erased permanently from my memory. Why anyone would want to buy these on purpose is beyond me. I'd rather take a picture of Pepto, which is what you need after consuming this "mystery shot". Handmade meatballs are silly light, fun to make and takes no time at all. I prefer a 50/50 blend of lean, beef beef and Italian sausage so it doesn't end up greasy, holds well together and still has a nice Italian sausage flavor. See how nice these look even before baking ?!
And better yet! And you will NOT believe how wonderful these smells while baking … omg … !!!!!!!!!!
You can add whatever kind of pizza outcome you usually have on your pizza to this sub, but we've found that simply having fresh bell peppers, pepperoni and onions is really all that's needed to make a spectacular pizza meatball sub and not too hard to manage to eat. If you add also a lot of toppings, you just want to end up with a mess, and the star of the show has to be meatballs anyway and everything else just has to be a "compliment". So basically, just adding one few of your most favorite top fractions.
I sautéed our vegetables in a nice mix 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 my sauce in seconds or you can use a jar with your favorite. But why stop at the sauce? The sauce is also very important. I also prefer a fresh mozzarella rather than bags of shredded faux mozz, but use whatever you prefer. Some of shredded white italian blends also work really well. However, it takes longer to freshen the mozzarella, so keep that in mind.
Watch closely while you are under the broiler! Bread can go from completely non-roasted to burnt, calling the fire department smoking in just seconds. I make mine in my wall oven under the broiler which has a low, medium and high setting. I start it on low to soften the cheese, then beat it on medium to get a better melt while watching the top bun for any burns at the edges. Just look closely.
My hubby came out a little prettier than mine, lol! I let him enjoy his while I took mine out to play in the heat to try and get a better shot … uhm … though mine wasn't "the pretty" and looked silly with "streaks" of cheese that managed to sink in between meatballs, I knew it tasted very good! Incredibly good. So good that he swears that a meatball sub will never have to be ordered again. Yay. I'm thinking …. not serious !!! YAY !!! These just can't be beat. Check them out for yourselves! And SO much less expensive and healthier because you control what it is made of and what goes on top of it as well as the wonderful bread it is served! Just plan ahead and go for it !!!
My… my stupid looking sub …. with meatball "stars" and mozzarella "stripes" all ready for the fourth !! (I can't believe I just said it …) But just know that they are WELL!!!
And my hub that lasted for about 5 minutes !!! He was a LOVELY, HAPPY MAN! 😉
Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and this is soon made in your own old fashioned pizza parlor! 😉
HANDLED PIZZERIA-STYLE MEATBALL SUBS with PEPPERONI, BELL PEPPERS, ONION & FRESH MOZZARELLA CHEESE
Make 4-6 ″ subs with 3 meatballs, or 3-8 ″ subs with 4 meatballs
1/2 pound lean meat, broken up well
1/2 pound mild or sweet painted Italian sausage, split well
1/3 cup of Italian spicy dry bread
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, Kraft can kind of ok
1/2 tsp. Italian spice
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 1/2 tsp. dried chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup milk
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
The rest of the ingredients:
1 small bell pepper, large cubes or julienne
1 small red bell pepper, large cubes or julienne
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1-2 Tbl. EVOO
barely each of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. Italian spice
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 stick of butter
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups of pizza sauce, homemade or store bought
20 slices of good pepperoni
1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
4 Tbl. finely grated parmesan cheese
3-4 hoagie or small rolls, homemade, semi-homemade or bakery style
For meatballs: In a large bowl, mix all ingredients WELL with your hands. Fold in a high, divide into fourths and make 3 large meatballs of each section in total 12. Place on sprayed or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30-32 minutes. Remove it from the sheet with the spoon scraping out any grease and place it on the plate. Cover and set it aside.
While the meatballs are baking, sauté the pepper and onion in EVOO and the next 5 ingredients until crispy. Set aside.
Melt butter with minced garlic. Set aside.
To assemble and end: Divide home-made or store-bought rolls with serrated bread knife and place open on foil baking sheets. (Be careful not to cut as the bottom is half too thin. Top should be thinner.) Sprinkle everything inside well with melted garlic butter, top each side with plenty of sauce. Put meatballs and pepper mixture on the underside. Place pepperoni slices across the top. Top meatball side with lots of fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle both sides with parmesan cheese. Put them in the oven on low breast until the cheese melts and the bread is lightly toasted so it seals tightly so you don't burn your bread. Close the top and remove them from the layers with a spatula or a circle server for the serving plates. Serve hot! (Cut in half with a sharp knife if desired.)