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Author Notes: This recipe puts meatball sandwiches within reach any night of the week. You make a simple tomato sauce, then form the meatballs while it simmers. Instead of the usual browning step, you cook the meatballs right in the sauce where they lend their meaty flavors. Add your favorite toasted roll (mine is ciabatta) and melting cheese (mine is fontina), and you're there. —Lynne Curry
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or basil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large straight-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it turns translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, oregano, marjoram and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
- Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a steady simmer while you prepare the meatballs.
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley, optional
- 1 pound ground beef, 80 percent lean
- 4 ciabatta rolls, split
- 4 slices fontina cheese
- Combine the breadcrumbs with the milk in a mixing bowl and stir to soften. Add the egg, garlic, salt, pepper, parmesan and parsley, if using. Stir to blend.
- Break up the ground beef and use a fork or your hands to combine the ingredients into a uniform mixture without over-blending and softening the fat in the ground beef.
- Use a portion scoop (#20) or tablespoon to portion 12 meatballs, about 2 ounces each, and round them between your hands. As you form them, drop the meatballs into the simmering tomato sauce.
- Cook for 10, partially covered, then turn the meatballs and cook for 10 minutes more to cook the meatballs through, or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F.
- Uncover the pot, taste the sauce for seasoning and cook until the sauce is reduced, about 5 minutes more while you preheat the broiler.
- Arrange the rolls on sheet pan cut side up and toast them lightly under the broiler. Spoon some of the sauce onto each side of the rolls. Top the bottom side with 3 meatballs, crushing them lightly with a spoon, and a slice of cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted.