TND – Belated Posting

July 5, 2012

There’s a new ‘diet’ making the rounds that seems to primarily consist of fantasizing about food that you then don’t eat.  Okay, so there’s a little more to it than that.  The idea, as far as I can tell, is that if you think about whatever it is that you’re craving – a burger, an ice cream sundae, an enormous plate of macaroni and cheese – and you visualize yourself eating it, and imagine the tastes and smells in Technicolor detail you’ll then stop craving it.  Imagining the experience is, apparently, enough to satisfy the craving.

I can tell you right now, this is not a diet that would ever work for me.  By the time I have imagined and dreamed and fantasized about a food to that extent I’m getting tetchy if I can’t (a) eat that food, and (b) eat the best possible version of that food.  Sometimes I know exactly where to go to get the exact version of a dish that I’m craving – when I want an ice cream sundae I usually head to Rancatores because their hot fudge sauce is out of this world.  On the rare occasions that I want a steak I go to Eastern Standard for their Grilled Flat Iron Steak which is a reasonable size, comes with Bearnaise sauce and a pile of hot crisp shoe string fries.  When I just want the fries I go to Via Lago, which makes the best fries in the Boston area (against which all other fries are measured, and are generally found wanting).  I actually have yet to find the place that satisfies my burger craving.  It used to be Krazy Karry’s in Arlington Center, but since they closed I haven’t found another place that does a basic, juicy burger quite as well (I’m talking about a burger that costs less than $10 and is thick and juicy and comes already dressed with all the appropriate condiments + pickles – I’m sure that Craigie on Main does a fantastic burger but I object to paying $18 for a burger; and I hate when burgers don’t come already dressed because they never bring all the right condiments to the table and there are never pickle slices on the burger – I only eat burgers about twice a year, I reserve the right to be super picky when I do).

However, sometimes I don’t know where to go to get whatever it is that I’m craving, and I’m afraid that trying to find it at a restaurant is going to leave me disappointed, and there is nothing more frustrating than a half fulfilled craving, or worse a badly fulfilled craving.  In this instance the only solution is to do a little googling and settle down to make it myself at home.  This is, as it happens, the situation in which I find myself this week.  I have been craving a meatball sub for what feels like the last month – that combination of soft bread roll, with warm rich tomato sauce, and a tender meatball, all held together in perfect harmony with some melted cheese.

The quick and easy solution to this would be to order a meatball sub from my local pizza place.  However, I suspect and fear that any meatball sub that I get delivered would only be a faint copy of the perfect meatball sub that I am carrying around in my head, and I am just going to be cranky about having wasted a meal on trying to fulfill a craving and ending up unsatisfied.  Fortunately, meatball subs are not all that complicated to make – time consuming, and involving many separate components, yes, but not actually technically challenging.

These ended up being pretty much exactly what I was fantasizing about, and my meatball sub craving has been fulfilled, and I can now move on to figuring out how to satisfy some other craving.

Chicken in Riesling (recipe previously given:  Suffering for Aesthetics )
Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Salad w/ Strawberries

Meatball Subs

Meatball Subs
(serves 6-8 people)

2 lb ground meat (I used a mix of ground turkey and meatloaf mix (pork, veal, beef) – but any 2 lb of meat will do)
2 ¾ oz fresh bread crumbs
¾ cup warm water
1 egg
2 Tbsp parsley
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
¾ tsp salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste

Combine the bread crumbs, egg and water in a large bowl and allow to sit for a minute or so.  Add the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.  Form into meatballs (pick whatever size you like – I did 1 ½ Tbsp / 1 oz meatballs because that’s the size scoop I happen to have, but you can make them bigger).

Now, you can go one of two ways at this point.  You can either brown them in a frying pan and then add them to your simmering tomato sauce to finish cooking.  Or, you can roast them in a 400 oven for 10 minutes to firm up a little so they don’t fall apart in the sauce, and then add them to your simmering tomato sauce to finish cooking.  Guess which I did (err . . . that would be the oven method if you were unclear about choosing easy and (relatively) clean over time consuming and messy).  Either way, simmer them in your sauce for 15-25 minutes depending on the size of the meatballs, or until fully cooked.

Tomato Sauce
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
Generous pinch of sugar
Salt/pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.  Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute until fragrant.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 25-30 minutes to blend the flavors.  Remove the thyme sprigs and add the meatballs to finish cooking.

This will make more sauce than you (probably) need.  You can just freeze the rest.

Caramelized Onions
3-4 large white onions (I’m fond of vidalias for this, but it’s up to you), halved & thinly sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Equal amounts of butter & olive oil equal to 1 Tbsp total
Dried thyme
(sprinkle of brown sugar)

Melt the butter and olive oil and then add the onions and garlic.  Stir to coat well.  Season with salt, pepper and dried thyme – at this point you can cheat a little and add a sprinkle of brown sugar to hasten the process a long a little and add a little more depth of sweetness, or skip it if you prefer).  Saute over a vigorous heat for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a dark golden color and just starting to stick to pan in places.  This will take almost a solid hour – anyone who tells you differently is lying.

You can do this 1-2 days in advance, store it in the fridge and then reheat in a skillet when you need them (apparently you can also freeze caramelized onions, but I’ve never actually tried this so I can’t verify that claim).

Enough sub/spuckie*/soft rolls (whatever your neck of the woods calls them – you want something with some structure, but nothing as chewy as a ciabatta) to serve 6-8 people
½ – ¾ lb sliced provolone cheese

Slice your rolls in half and pull out some of the middle to form a channel for the meatballs to sit in.  Toast for 5-10 minutes to get a little golden color on them (I did mine on a baking sheet in the oven since it was already hot from roasting the meatballs).

Spoon a thin layer of sauce onto the top and bottom of each roll.  On the bottom of the roll place a layer of caramelized onions.  Arrange the meatballs onto the bed of onions (I figure about 3-4 meatballs/person to start with – but this will be dependent on the size of your meatballs and the size of your roll), making sure to get a little of the sauce with each meatball.  Top with cheese and return to the oven/broiler until cheese melts (5-6 minutes).  Top with the other half of the roll and serve immediately.

Serve any extra sauce on the side for people who like their meatball subs saucy.

* Spuckie rolls are what they’re called in the Boston area, I have no idea why.  I got mine at Parziale Bakery in the North End after a disconcertingly exhaustive hunt.  I assumed finding the right kind of roll to construct a sub was going to be the easiest part of the process, and instead it turned out to be the hardest and required a trawl through North End bakeries and the internet to track down a bakery that sold rolls in the shape, size, and texture I was envisioning (because if I was going to the trouble of making a meatball sub, all of the specifics needed to be exact).

I figured if I was going the home made take out route I should follow through with the salad, so romaine lettuce, lots of assorted sliced veggies (cucumber, red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes) and ranch dressing.

Melon & Strawberries
The melon is from who knows where, the strawberries are local.



  1. Incidentally, if you’re looking for a meatball sub downtown, Al’s does a pretty excellent one. (As are most of the rest of their subs and OMG HOW DID I NOT KNOW THEY HAVE A HARVARD SQ LOCATION NOW??!)

  2. […] to be the summer of sandwiches.  So far we’ve eaten our way through a variety of tea sandwiches, meatball subs, and pulled chicken.  This week we’re revisiting banh mi at a birthday request.  And rubbing my […]

  3. […] Recipe previously given: Belated Posting […]

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