Meatball subs are in the regular rotation during football season at our house. They can be made with frozen meatballs and jars of marinara sauce, homemade meatballs with marinara sauce, frozen meatballs and homemade sauce, or homemade meatballs with homemade sauce.
I have made them in all of the combinations above and I am not ashamed. Even if you tell me how great the sandwich was you just ate, I will let you know I used frozen meatballs and which brand of jarred sauce I used, if I did.
The secret to great meatball subs using frozen meatballs is the cooking method. Slow, slow, slow. You can cook them on a stovetop, in a crockpot, or in a low temperature oven. You just need enough sauce to cover the meatballs and a little water. If I am using a jarred sauce I add about a quarter cup of water to each jar, this normally takes 2 jars when I cook for a party, replace the lid and shake the water in the jar to get out the last of the sauce and pour it in.
I usually use a slow cooker and I just set it on high and stir occasionally until the sauce starts bubbling around the edges of the crock. Reduce the heat to low and walk away. The meatballs can be served as soon as they are heated through, but the magic happens when they are allowed to sit and simmer. Stir whenever you remember or open the lid to peek at them, I know you do that, because I do that too. When grease starts floating on top of the pot that’s when they are ready. Remove the grease with a spoon. They should be moist and tender at this point.
When using the stovetop, I use the same method above for preparing, but I set the heat to medium low until the sauce starts simmering. Then reduce the heat to low. Following the same directions as slow cooking above.
Oven cooking is a little simpler, I add them to an ovenproof pan with a lid. I dump all the same ingredients as above into this vessel, cover it with the lid, set the oven to 300°F and walk away. I stir it every couple of hours to see how it is doing. When the fat is floating, it’s time to eat.
But for the best meatball subs, use homemade meatballs and Andy’s favorite pasta sauce. There is no need to cook the meatballs first, you can cook them right in the sauce. We prefer the texture and taste of precooked meatballs though, so that is how I make them. When I use the homemade sauce, I add a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce for thinning out the sauce rather than water.
If there are meatballs leftover, I usually dice them up and mix it into the leftover sauce and save for pasta another night. Leftover meatballs can be frozen in the leftover sauce and reheated on the stovetop.
Preheat oven to 375°F if baking.
Place ground beef and eggs in a large bowl. Mix to combine.
Sprinkle basil, garlic salt, and grated cheese over meat mixture. Mix with your hands just until combined. Try not to overwork the meat mixture.
Sprinkle about ¼ cup of the bread crumbs over the mixture and gentle work them in. If mixture still seems too wet, add more bread crumbs a little at a time and work them in.
Form mixture into meatballs of whatever size you prefer.
Spray a baking sheet, with sides, with baking spray. Place meatballs on sheet and place in preheated oven. Bake until meatballs are browned.
Alternate cooking directions: Preheat skillet over medium-high heat and add enough cooking oil to lightly coat the skillet. Place meatballs in preheated skillet. Turn meatballs to brown all sides.
These can be made gluten free by substituting bread crumbs with rice chex that have been run through the food processor.
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