Alex and I had just arrived to Seattle. We were hungry. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we decided to walk over to the restaurant. We should have consulted Google Maps before trekking over. Oh,well.
It was worth the long walk in the rain, the big fall I had while walking on the wet sidewalk (note to self: do NOT try to walk over wet steel plates) and even the half hour line to order was worth it. No matter how bad of a day you’ve had, an amazing meatball sandwich can erase all the gloom.
It’s been three years since I had that sandwich. I can’t really remember the details (and nope, I didn’t take a picture of it before I ate it.) It’s probably hard for friends and family to imagine, but once upon a time I didn’t take pictures of everything I’ve ever ate. Plus the restuarant is very, very tiny. There were about three cramped communal tables. Alex and I were lucky enough to snag one seat that we happily shared so we could eat our sandwiches indoors (instead of out in the cold rain). Maybe it was bad lighting or hunger that made me eat the sandwich without taking a photo of it. Anyway, like i was saying, I don’t remember the details- I just remember having an amazing meatball sandwich.
Rather than try to recreate that sandwich (and fail to live up to that perfect memory), Alex and I decided to come with our recipe. There are a million different ways to make meatballs (all beef, all pork, mixture of beef and pork, turkey, a little ground chicken, etc). But one type of meatball that stands out for me, is ricotta meatballs.
Meatballs are quite easy to make. For me, the most difficult part is touching the cold meat. That’s where disposable gloves come in very handy.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. While you can use a spoon or spatula to mix it all together, it’s best with your hands. Put on those gloves and mash all the ingredients together. Use a cookie/ice cream scooper to evenly divide and portion out the meatballs. I ended up with 23 meatballs. Roll and pack the meatballs in the palm of your hands. Because of the ricotta, these meatballs are a little fragile, so be sure to roll them tight.
Brown the meatballs in batches over medium heat in an oiled skillet. No need to completely cook the meatballs, you just want the outside to be browned and set. The meatballs will continue to cook in the tomato sauce. Place all the browned meatballs in a large pot. Pour in your marinara/tomato sauce and let the mixture come to a boil. Then reduce heat and let it simmer until the meatballs are warmed up and cooked throughout.
Ricotta makes these meatballs so tender, juicy, and flavorful. And because they are so tender, be careful when cooking them in the sauce. Gently move the meatballs in the cooking marinara so they don’t break up and fall apart.
To make the sandwiches, take your bread and slice it about 90% open. Prop the bread roll open and lightly toast it in the oven. Place provolone cheese slices in the toasted bread. Then spoon in the cooked meatballs. If desired, place it under the broiler for about 15-20 seconds until the cheese melts. I like to serve this sandwich with a heavy sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese and a side of marinara dipping sauce.
Just remember, if you’ve had a bad day- an amazing meatball sandwich is all you really need.
Ricotta Meatball Sandwich
The ultimate juicy meatball sandwich. Tender and flavorful ricotta meatballs in a rich tomato sauce with melted provolone cheese served on a lightly toasted bread roll. This sandwich is sure to please everyone!
Yield: 23 meatballs, serves 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 slices white sandwich bread, torn
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs, whisked lightly
- 2 Tbsp Italian parsley, minced
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
- 1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casing
- salt and pepper, to season
- 2 pound jar marinana sauce (homemade or store-bought)
- Bolillo rolls, or bread rolls of choice
- sliced provolone cheese
- grated parmesan cheese, to garnish
- minced Italian parsley, to garnish
- In a medium skillet, warm up 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once skillet is hot, add diced onions. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent. During the last 30 seconds of cooking, add minced garlic. Toss to combine. Once garlic fragrant and onions are cooked, remove from heat and place in a small bowl. Let cool and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine torn sandwich bread, milk, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and lightly whisked eggs. Then add minced parsley, ground beef and sausage. Add cooked onions and garlic mixture. Season with salt and black pepper. Using your hands, mash all the ingredients together.
- Using a cookie/ice cream scooper, divide and portion out meatballs. Roll and pack the meatballs in the palm of your hands.
- Brown the meatballs in batches over medium heat in an oiled skillet. No need to completely cook the meatballs, you just want to brown the outside. The meatballs will continue to cook in the sauce.
- Place all the browned meatballs in a large pot. Pour in marinara sauce and let mixture come to a boil. Then reduce heat and let mixture simmer until the meatballs are warmed up and cooked throughout.
- To make the sandwiches, take our bread rolls and slice it about 90% open. Prop the roll oven and lightly toast in the oven. Place provolone cheese slices in the toasted bread. Spoon in cooked meatballs. If desired, place sandwich under the broiler for about 15-20 seconds until the cheese melts. Serve sandwich with a sprinkling grated parmesan cheese and minced Italian parsley.
The Little Epicurean