Meatball Sub Casserole

Like most people, I love a good meatball sub. Little balls of yummy goodness covered in marinara and melted cheese on a warm sub roll. MMMM… It doesn’t get much better than that. Sometimes you toast them, sometimes you steam them. It really depends on which part of the county you are from. Whichever you prefer nothing beats this sandwich when you have a craving for zesty goodness. This time around we are going to back them. Yes, I said bake them, and in a casserole no less. This is a great recipe for a family that doesn’t want to go to the trouble of making a bunch of individual subs for everyone. Now you can make one big one and cut it up for everyone to enjoy.

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Here’s how you do it.

What you need

1lb lean ground beef

1lb hot Italian sausage

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 small white onion (half finely chopped, half sliced)

1 small bell pepper (thinly sliced)

2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp granulated garlic

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 tbsp crushed red pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

2 Pillsbury french bread tubes

8 oz fresh mozzarella  (the little balls packed in water work great)

1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce ( I used Rao’s Marinara)

Prep and cooking.

This recipe is a little involved but the results are pretty amazing.

Note. You can make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them to use later.

Making the meatballs

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Thoroughly mix the ground beef, Italian sausage, bread crumbs, eggs, chopped onions, salt, pepper and garlic together in a large mixing bowl. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with non stick cooking spray. This will help the meatballs not stick to the baking sheet. Now roll out the meatballs into small little balls about an inch and half around. You don’t want them too big because it is harder to get them cooked through properly, but you don’t want them too small either or they dry out easily. Once you have all of the mixture rolled out into little meatballs place them in a preheated (to 35o degrees) oven and bake for 20 minutes. You want them to start getting nice and brown on top.

Garlic Onions and Peppers

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While the meatballs are baking you can prep the onions, peppers and garlic. You want to saute them using the olive oil in a medium size pan over medium high heat. Saute them until the onions start to turn translucent. Set aside.

Assembling the casserole.

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Coat a large casserole dish with non stick cooking spray. Unroll one of the tubes of french bread and line the bottom of the dish. you want to cover the entire bottom. Now start placing the meatballs in a single layer on top of the bread. You can put them as close together as you like. Its really up to you how many you want in it. Next start placing the mozzarella in between the meatballs. You want to make sure you get them nice and evenly spaced throughout the meatballs so when they melt every bite will have some. Next you want to take the onions, peppers and garlic and spread it out evenly on top of the meatballs and mozzarella. Once that is done pour out the entire jar of marinara sauce and cover everything. Now take half of the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle evenly on top. Once that is all put together it is time to add the top layer of bread, roll out the second french bread and cover the top completely. For the final touch sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese and the red pepper flakes on top and cover with aluminum foil and place it in the center of a preheated (350 degrees) oven. Bake it for 30 minutes covered then another 15 uncovered to get a nice brown on the top.

And there you have it. Make several cuts all the way through to get individual servings and enjoy.

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Thanks for reading,

JMW

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The Perfect Cuban Sandwich

One thing I have enjoyed for many years is a good Cuban sandwich. Growing up in Florida I have had my fair share of Cuban sandwiches good and bad and even skirting bizarre. I will have to tell you about the meatloaf Cuban sometime.

When I moved to Texas I realized that there was a shortage of Cuban restaurants and not many places offered a really good Cuban sandwich, or at least not a traditional one. There are a few things that go into making a Cuban sandwich great and without those I don’t think it can truly be called a Cuban. First is the bread;  A Cuban is made with a hard crust Cuban bread or you can use a good French bread which is essentially the same thing, just make sure it is a hard crust bread. An 8 to 10 inch piece will make a filling sandwich. Second is the mustard and pickles, it’s just not a Cuban without mustard and pickles and I mean dill pickles not those vile sweet things people try and pass off as pickles. When I make a Cuban I don’t go for the fancy mustard, I grab the French’s plain ole yellow mustard. For me this just brings out the flavor of the meat. Which brings me to the filling for the sandwich. For it to be a great Cuban sandwich it must use two meats, a good thin sliced roasted pork and a thin sliced ham are the traditional choices and to compliment it you need to add a couple of slices of Swiss cheese. If you want it to be a great Cuban you need the Swiss cheese. Now the last thing to make a great Cuban sandwich is that it has to be pressed flat. Some restaurants seem to miss this step and to them I say “shame on you”. You need to press the sandwich in a hot pan on both sides or even in something like a panini press but however you do it flatten it and get it toasty on the outside or its not worth the effort.

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So lets get into making this glorious creation.

Ingredients

3 to 4 slices of Boars Head Black Forest Ham (sliced thin)

3 to 4 slices of roasted pork (sliced thin)

French’s yellow mustard

French Bread (8 to 10 inch loaf)

Garlic Powder

Dill pickles sliced (about 6 slices)

Swiss cheese (two slices)

Assembly

First cut the end off of the French bread at a slight diagonal and then slice it in half down the center so that there is a top and bottom for your bun. Now spread a nice amount of mustard on the inside of both halves and then lay out the meat slices, ham first then pork. Now cover with the cheese and then pickles and then put the top half of the bun on.

Now take a large pan that will fit your sandwich and give it a nice coating of cooking spray and heat to medium high heat. Sprinkle in  a little garlic powder while it is heating up. Once the pan has heated up put the sandwich in and let it start to toast. While it is toasting you will want to use either a spatula or a smaller pan to press it as flat as you can. After it has toasted for a couple of minutes take it out and spray a little more cooking spray and add a little more garlic powder and do the same thing to the other side of the sandwich. You will know it is done when you see the cheese start to melt a little.

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Now remove the sandwich, cut it in half and enjoy. You may add things to your sandwich if you want,  I have even been known to put a little mayo on from time to time or even a few grilled onions to change it up a bit, but never ever remove anything if you want it to truly taste like a Cuban Sandwich. I think if you follow these instructions that you will end up being just as big a fan of the Cuban sandwich as I am.

Enjoy and thanks for reading,

JMW

Red Wine Braised Beef

I ran across a good deal on flank steak at my local grocery store the other day and since I haven’t done anything with that type of meat in a while I picked some up. Now the thing is, I did not want to prepare it my usual way which is to season it, grill it and then thinly slice it for fajitas, I wanted to do something different. So I started looking around the internet for recipes that sounded good to me like I do every now and again. I actually came across several that sounded really good and decided to take a couple of ideas from each and then add a little of my own special touch to come up with a recipe of my own. Once prepared  the beef is good on its own or as a filler for a killer sandwich, which is what I did.

What you need:

Flank steak (2 to 2 ½ lbs cut into 2 even pieces).

Olive oil

Fresh Garlic (3 or 4 cloves)

2 medium red onions (halved and sliced)

1 bottle red wine.

Oven safe skillet

sea salt

black pepper

Prep

In a large oven safe skillet add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium high heat until it can move around and cover the bottom of the pan. Then take both pieces of flank steak and brown them on either side, adding salt and pepper to both sides as you turn them. Do not worry about cooking all the way through at this time. Once they are browned on either side remove from skillet and add in onions and garlic. Saute the onions and garlic until they start to turn clear. Now add the steak back in the pan on top of the veggies and pour in enough red wine to cover about ¾ of the way. Place the pan in the over (preheated to 350). Let it cook uncovered for about and hour. When you start to notice that the wine is almost gone remove the pan flip the steaks and add more wine (cover about ¾ of the way again). Now put the pan back in the oven for around another hour. When the wine has almost cooked away (leaving just a little) remove from the oven and let it cool. Once it has cooled enough to handle you will want to shred the beef and then stir it and the onions all together in the pan.

Now for the sandwich part if you would like to recreate what I did.

You will need:

Bohio rolls (or small sandwich rolls)

Blue cheese crumbles

Cut the bohio rolls in half long ways. Scoop on a nice helping of the beef on to the bottom half of the roll and then cover it with the blue cheese crumbles. Place the top on to make a sandwich and wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil. Place it in the oven (preheated to 450) and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove and take out of the foil.

And for the final step…Enjoy.

 

Thanks for reading

JMW