OK, so I have a confession. I never remember my Italian Grandmother making a meatball sub. She did, however, make meatballs. Good meatballs. Lots and lots of meatballs.
Pasta too, from scratch, by hand. No pasta machine necessary. Very old world. This meatball sub is a Grandmother/ Granddaughter collaboration, some 35 years after her passing. I took her meatball recipe and made it into a sub with cheeses we love.
My maternal Grandmother immigrated from Italy in 1917 at the age of 16, leaving 9 older brothers and sisters, including a twin, as well as her parents, to live in the United States with a sister.
She met and married my Grandfather, also an Italian immigrant, who worked for Potomac Electric. She was widowed by the age of 40 and left with 3 daughters to raise, the youngest being 9 (my Mom).
Although she achieved her US Citizenship, she spoke only broken English. She worked as a seamstress at Raleigh Haberdasher in Washington, D.C. to provide for her family. It wasn’t until her daughters were grown that she remarried and moved to Florida.
She never lost her sewing talent. She made maternity clothes for my Mom. Then made dresses for my dolls and matching aprons for my Mom and me. I still have a few of the dresses and one of the aprons, a Christmas one. My Grandmother died when I was 12, long before I had ANY desire to learn to cook or sew, for that matter.
While she didn’t technically teach me to make her meatballs, I do have her recipe from my Mom, who also made her meatballs.
Now I make them all the time not only for spaghetti and meatballs but also smaller versions for barbecue meatballs as an appetizer and for these meatball subs that my family loves.
Grandma’s Italian Meatball Subs
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion I like Vidalia onions
- 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 Hoagie rolls uncut
- 1 jar pasta sauce or 18 ounces of your homemade sauce
- 8 slices Provolone cheese
- ⅓ cup Mozzarella cheese shredded
- Parmesan to grate over tops of sandwiches
- In a medium bowl combine ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix gently to combine without overworking the meat. Make 12 meatballs from the mixture. (3 good size meatballs for each hoagie roll). (Adjust accordingly for more or less sandwiches).
- In a medium saucepan heat pasta sauce, covered.
- Over medium heat, cook the meatballs in a large skillet, uncovered, adding a small amount of water to the bottom of the skillet. Turn meatballs frequently to avoid burning, adding small amounts of water as necessary. Cook meatballs until no longer pink in center.
- Once meatballs are done, transfer to saucepan with sauce. Let simmer while you prepare the hoagie rolls.
- To prepare hoagie rolls: Do not slice completely through the hoagie rolls. Leave a sort of pocket to cradle the ingredients. In each hoagie roll, place 2 slices of Provolone in the crease of the roll. Top with 3 meatballs and a bit of sauce. Sprinkle shredded Mozzarella cheese over top of meatballs. Grate Parmesan cheese over top of subs, if desired.
- Serve hot.