So this was my first ever meatball sub. Even when I could eat “junk food” (and I can assure you the recipe below is no junk), I’d always opt for a KFC or occasionally a McDonalds instead of a Subway; who wants to buy junk food for lunch and end up with a sandwich? I have since been assured that subway meatball marinaras are not, in fact, all that; mainly because, at a foot long, and with the obligatory mayonnaise and lettuce (?) on top of all the filling, they end up being a little sickly.
However, after bookmarking this recipe a few months ago, I finally decided it was time to see what all the fuss, or non-fuss, was about, and have me a meatball sub. Similar to other replica junk food (crispy chicken strips, doughnuts) meatball subs are surprisingly hard work to make from scratch (though if you’re making it from scratch, making it gluten-free as well is no extra effort). There’s the bun, there’s the meatballs, and since you’re doing all that you don’t want to ruin it with some budget shop-bought sauce, so there’s the tomato sauce as well (which honestly takes 10 minutes to make, 5 ingredients, and one of those is water). That said, when you put it all together it is a fair bit of active time. I can confidently say though it is *completely* worth it, and apparently yes, it is ok that I dribbled tomato sauce all down my hands as I was eating my sub; just another reason to eat them at home.
Adapted a fair bit from Smitten Kitchen, who in turn got it from Ina Garten
Since you’re going to be toasting the buns anyway it’s fine to make those the day before, to save you spending the whole afternoon making these.
Breadcrumbs from inside rolls, about 1/3 cup (you’ll need 4 medium-sized rolls, or one recipe of these buns)
250g pork mince
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped chives
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed chillies
3 tablespoons parmesan
Dash of soy sauce
4 medium ripe tomatoes, finely chopped (you can peel them if you like but i didn’t bother and there’s no noticeable peely bits in the sauce)
Handful of basil, torn
1/4 small yellow onion, finely minced
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter
Half yellow onion, separated into rings
4 tablespoons grated cheddar
1. Take your gluten-free bread rolls and slice them almost in half lengthwise. Using a teaspoon scrape out some of the bread from inside the rolls, making a groove where the meatballs can sit. Break the bread up with your fingertips into breadcrumbs; you should have about 1/3 cup. Put this into a large bowl.
2. To the breadcrumbs add the pork mince, parsley, chives, garlic powder, crushed chillies, egg, parmesan, soy sauce and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a fork. With your hands, form the mixture into 8 meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
3. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large saucepan. When hot, add the meatballs and allow to brown for 2-3 minutes on each side; be careful turning the meatballs over as they are quite fragile. When browned, put the meatballs in a baking dish, top with the onion rings and bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked all the way through.
4. Meanwhile, in the meatball saucepan, which will still have a little oil and lots of meatbally bits in it, add the tomatoes, basil and onion to make the tomato sauce. Fry everything over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent, then add the water and salt and pepper and simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and with an immersion blender puree the mixture. Return the pan to the heat, stir in the butter and check the seasoning. Set aside until ready to use.
5. When the meatballs are cooked remove from the oven. Carefully place 2 meatballs inside each gluten-free bun, spread a tablespoon or two of tomato sauce on top of the meatballs, a tablespoon of cheese on top of the sauce and finally balance a few onion rings on top, before trying to fit the lid of the bun over the filling. Arrange the meatball subs on a clean baking tray and place under the grill for 2-3 minutes, or until the buns are browned on top and the cheese melted.
6. Serve immediately with plenty of napkins.
Makes 4 meatball subs, enough for dinner for 2 people, or lunch for 4.