The Virginia Gazette

Tailgating recipe: Meatball subs

It's the Ravens' first home playoff game since 2007, and depending on the outcome of the Denver-New England game, it could be their last home game until next season. So let's make this tailgate count.

Since the weather this weekend is predicted to be in the 30s, you'll want something to chase off the chill. That's where the meatball sub comes in. It's easy to make at home and assemble in the parking lot — or at home, if that's where you'll be watching.

Meatball subs

Makes 10 six-inch subs

Prep and cooking time: 11/2 hours

Meatball ingredients:

Makes 20 2-ounce meatballs

1 ounce extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium yellow onion, minced

5 cloves of garlic

1 pound ground beef

1 pound mild Italian sausage (casing removed)

2 eggs

2 ounces bread (preferably stale), cubed

1/2 cup whole milk (it can be 2 percent or skim)

1/2 bunch parsley, minced

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dry)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Tomato sauce ingredients:

1 ounce extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, medium dice

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake

2 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced (or 1 1/2 teaspoon dry)

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

11/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 bunch parsley, minced

2 tablespoon basil leaves, minced

Finishing ingredients:

10 6-inch sub rolls

1/2 lb shredded mozzarella

To make the sauce:

In a pot over medium heat, add oil and wait until it shimmers. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and red pepper flake, cook for two minutes.

Crush tomatoes by hand in a bowl then add them to the pot. Add bay leaf and oregano. Stir to combine. Add salt, sugar and pepper. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. When sauce reaches a boil, turn heat down to medium low. Place a splatter guard over to keep the tomato sauce from ruining your kitchen.

Cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Turn off heat. Add parsley and basil. Stir to combine. Set aside for meatballs.

To make the meatballs:

In a bowl, pour the milk over cubed bread and let sit, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Squeeze excess milk out. Reserve bread for meatball mix.

Heat oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add onions. Cook onions until translucent, add garlic and cook for another two minutes. Set aside to cool for five minutes.

In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients thoroughly with your hands. Using a No. 20 scoop, portion out the meatballs. You can also eyeball this and make meatballs about the size of a golf ball with your hands.

In the largest pan you have, heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers, then add as many meatballs as you can fit without overcrowding the pan (a 10-inch pan should fit 10 meatballs easily). Turn heat down to medium low.

Cook meatballs over medium-low heat until brown on the one side, flip them and brown on the other side. Transfer meatballs to a large plate and drain off oil. Add the rest of the meatballs, cook the same way as first batch, and when brown on both sides, add all of the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Set aside for tailgating.

At tailgate party:

Heat meatball mixture up in a crockpot or other portable warming device. Cut a trench into the roll. Sprinkle the inside of the roll with a little mozzarella. Place two meatballs (plus sauce) into each 6-inch sub roll. Top with more mozzarella while meatballs are still hot and serve.

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