What is it about a meatball? Meatballs are round, they’re tasty, and pretty much everyone likes them. Meatball love is probably rooted in childhood; children like to play with their food, so having fun-shaped food is, well, fun. Give a kid ground meat and they might refuse to eat it, but put it in the shape of a ball and…it gets gobbled up.
Made right, they’re comforting, juicy, flavorful. They hit a specific spot. You can make your own – with ground pork, beef, or lamb and whatever other ingredients and spices you’d like. Or you can find raw meatballs in the vending machines in various flavors — parmesan cheese and parsley, spicy broccoli rabe, and sweet Italian. We make them with pork, spices, and a little short grain white rice for consistency. Some home cooks like to use breadcrumbs over rice. To each their own. To cook, just pop them in the oven at 375 degrees.
You can eat them whole, straight from the oven, with or without a fork. It happens. Or you can incorporate them in a dish. They do very well in a pot of tomato bubbling-hot tomato sauce. You can serve them over spaghetti, or with some crusty bread.
Our current obsession is a meatball wedge. This basically involves that same crusty bread, cut in half, and the right amount of sauce so the bread won’t get soggy but will get the right amount of saucy. The food writer David Lebovitz prefers his meatball sandwich with either mozzarella or provolone cheese. He takes crusty French or Italian bread, cuts it open almost all the way through. And then he slices his meatballs in half and puts them between the bread, “pressing down with a fork to meld them with the bread.” Then he tops this with slices of cheese and heats in a hot oven, or under a broiler, until the cheese melts.
Depending on where you grew up, you might consider this a meatball sub or even a meatball grinder, not a wedge. You might even call it a hoagie! Whatever. It’s all a meatball sandwich and it’s all delicious.