I recently had a “meatball sandwich” from an establishment that shall remain nameless. My friend got one too, and we were both a little confused when our sandwiches came out with lettuce, tomato, and onion on them.
Is this a Bay Area thing? This has happened to me here before, and I don’t get it.
Hot meatballs and marinara sauce + cold, bland toppings… does not compute.
To top it all off, the food from said establishment left us both with stomach aches all afternoon.
It goes without saying that I needed to make this right, so a few days later I cooked up my own meatball sandwiches.
We definitely have some of the usual suspects here, although I used goat cheese where I normally use parmesan. And the meat mixture is beef and pork sausage; apparently I needed some really fattening meatballs to get over the previously mentioned atrocity.
I think the most important thing to keep in mind when making meatballs (and I could make a lot of jokes here, but I’ll spare you) is to not overwork your meat! I know you’re worried that it won’t get mixed properly, and that’s why I always thoroughly mix everything but the meat first. That way you’re combining the meat with one homogeneous mixture instead of 10 different ingredients.
These meatballs are baked because dammit, it’s just easier that way. You still get a nice outer crunch, they all cook evenly, and you don’t have to tend to them at all. While they bake, a simple sauce (with even more goat cheese) gets made and they’re ready to go at the same time. At that point you could always leave them in the sauce on very low heat to keep warm until you’re ready to eat!
I mean really, as Ina would say, how easy is thaaaat?
Sausage & Goat Cheese Meatball Sandwiches
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup goat cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped basil
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 2 large eggs
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground beef (80/20)
- 3/4 pound hot italian pork sausage, taken out of casing
- Ciabatta buns, for serving
- Extra chopped basil, for serving
- Extra garlic cloves, for serving
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- Red pepper flakes
- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- Kosher salt
- Granulated sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons goat cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, goat cheese, basil, parsley, eggs, minced garlic, milk, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the beef and sausage and gently mix to combine (your hands are the best tool for this). Use a standard ice cream scoop or roll the mixture by hand into 2 1/4" meatballs. Place them on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until nicely browned and at an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
- While the meatballs are baking, start the sauce. Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and a good pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the crushed tomatoes along with a pinch each of salt, sugar, and pepper. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes, then taste and adjust for salt, sugar and pepper. Stir in the goat cheese and keep the sauce warm. When the meatballs are done, add them to the marinara sauce and stir them gently to coat.
- Cut the ciabatta buns in half and toast them. When they're ready, take a peeled garlic clove and rub it all over the cut side of each bun. Put 3 or 4 meatballs on each sandwich and top with chopped basil.