The perfect meatball sandwich first needs perfect meatballs, great sauce and gooey melty cheese. Once you have those two in place, the rest is a matter of construction and bara bing, bada boom.
So back to the meatballs…roasting them on an wire rack gets them evenly browned and keeps them juicy. Adding gelatin to the mix of lean ground chuck and ground pork adds richness while making the meatballs soft and plump. Prosciutto really amplifies the flavors and a panade, made with Panko breadcrumbs and buttermilk keep it moist and prevent the meatball from getting tough. The key to keeping them light is to not mush the ball with shaping it. I use a large ice cream scoop to ensure that the meatballs are all the same size. Using store bought marinara like Raos makes for one less thing to make.
1 cup (250ml) Panko breadcrumbs
½ cup (125ml) buttermilk (see note below)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1½ pounds (680g) ground beef
¼ pound sliced prosciutto, finely chopped (¾ cup)
2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
¼ cup (62.5ml) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
¾ teaspoons powdered gelatin, dissolved in 1½ tablespoons cold water
¼ cup (62.5ml) Italian parsley a.k.a flat leaf parsley
26-28 ounce Raos, Marinara Sauce
Twelve 3 to 3 1/2-inch diameter Italian rolls, split
12 ounces (340g) Mozzarella or provolone cheese sliced
FOR THE MEATBALLS: Place wire racks in 2 foil-lined rimmed baking sheets. Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and upper-middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine bread crumbs and buttermilk in large bowl and let sit, mashing occasionally with fork, until smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes.
Sauté the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet with a lid or a dutch oven, season with bit a salt and black pepper, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, scrape into a large bowl, and let cool to room temperature.
Combine the sautéed onions, beef, pork, eggs, prosciutto, Parmesan, parsley, gelatin mixture, ½ -¾ teaspoons salt, (the prosciutto is salty) and ¼ teaspoon pepper to bread-crumb mixture. Using hands, gently mix until thoroughly combined. Lightly form about ¼ cup mixture into 1½-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form approximately 36 meatballs.
Spray wire racks with nonstick cooking spray and place meatballs, evenly spaced, on racks; roast until browned, about 30 minutes, rotating trays from front to back and top to bottom halfway through.
Remove meatballs from oven and lower oven temperature to 300 degrees. Gently add meatballs to sauce, cover pot, and place in oven. Cook until meatballs are firm about 30 minute. Remove and turn the broiler on low.
FOR THE SUBS: Place the rolls on a sheet pan and place under the broiler for 1 minute until lightly toasted. Spoon the hot meatballs with some sauce over the bottoms of the rolls. Place ½ slice mozzarella or provolone on top of meatballs and place under the broiler to melt the cheese, then fold the tops of the rolls over and serve.