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meatball subs with caramelized onions

February 21, 2011

I was not as pumped about this recipe as I should’ve been. I mean, I love meatballs and all, but I’m not as crazy about caramelized onions or onions in general as Chris is, and gruyere is not my favorite cheese.

Um, hello, grumpypants, I should’ve known to trust Deb from Smitten Kitchen better. The gruyere-onion-meat-tomato sauce combo was really delicious, despite the fact that we were too wiped from our soup-making efforts to actually make the tomato sauce and/or buy anything fancier than the canned stuff. The subtlety of the gruyere didn’t overwhelm the herby deliciousness of the meatballs, and the baguette we used as bread held up pretty well to the sauce.

If you’re extra-classy like we are, you can also MacGyver a pan lid that actually fits your pan.
Plus, for the most part, the meatballs are simmered in the sauce for cook-age, so you don’t have to worry about getting them totally cooked through while you’re searing them on the stovetop, which is pretty much the most annoying way to cook anything ever. And we ended up with extra cheese *and* onions, which were awesome stirred into our scrambled eggs the next morning. Yummmm.

Meatball Subs with Caramelized Onions
48 inches of baguette total [these quantities would probably serve about 8 for dinner with soup or something else on the side—we halved everything, more or less, to serve 4, and one baguette served us well]
2 lb. ground meat of your choice [we did half turkey meatballs and half beef]
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or 1/4 cup chopped spinach
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
olive oil
4 cups prepared tomato sauce
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups coarsely shredded Gruyere

1. Split your rolls almost the whole way through, leaving one side attached. Scoop out some of the roll to create a channel for the meatballs to rest in. Grind the bread you pulled out in a food processor or tear it into tiny bits. You will need 1 1/3 cups or 2 3/4 oz. of fresh breadcrumbs for the meatballs.
2. Place the fresh breadcrumbs in a large bowl with 3/4 cup warm water and all the meatball ingredients except for the olive oil and tomato sauce. Combine with a fork, breaking up clumps of meat until the ingredients are evenly distributed. With wet hands, form mixture into 2-inch meatballs [we kept it to 1-inchers] and arrange on a tray.
3. Heat a generous slick of oil in a large saute pan with a lid. Brown meatballs in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan or nudge them before they’re nicely browned. Transfer meatballs to a paper towel-lined tray and continue until they are all browned.
4. Discard the oil and heat your tomato sauce in the pan. Add the meatballs, cover the pan, and simmer them on the lowest heat possible for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
5. While the meatballs are simmering, cook the onions. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, sprinkle with salt and a little pepper, and cook until they’re tender, sweet, and deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
6. Arrange meatballs with sauce in the hollowed-out rolls. Drape caramelized onions over the top and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place subs under a broiler [but make sure you don’t have any kale chips in the oven first] or in an oven at top heat to melt the cheese.

Source: Smitten Kitchen

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