This is sandwich royalty. The meatball sandwich is not for the faint hearted, and will surely satisfy the hungriest of hungry. I thought that this would be a really great boxing day lunch with family or friends. It’s relatively easy to make, and the assembly can be really fun, especially when there are little munchkins to help out. To me, the more communal the effort, the more enjoyable the meal becomes. Of course, if you walk the paleo path, no problem! Naked meatballs are also super delicious too (especially with all the delicious add-ons!)
Meatball Sandwiches (for two)
You will need:
100g beef mince (nice and fatty! I buy free range, grass fed beef)
150g pork mince (the fattier the better, I always buy pastured pork)
1 large brown onion
1 tin of tomatoes (my favourite brand is mutti)
1 small tin of tomato paste (again, mutti. Make sure you check the date it was made because old paste tastes terrible)
1 large eggplant
a head of cos lettuce (optional)
1 medium ball of fresh mozzarella or a tub of bocconcini
150g pitted black olives in olive oil
2 anchovy fillets (optional)
a small wedge of lemon
3 cloves of garlic, skins removed and crushed
coconut oil / rice bran oil / ghee for frying
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil / butter
fresh bread rolls
Leave your mince out of the fridge so that it comes to room temperature. Salt and pepper the meat, and mix it together with your hands in a large bowl. Roll out 1.5″ balls and lay out on a tray. Slice the eggplant into half centimetre discs and salt them in a colander. (This will draw out moisture from the eggplant). Break up the cos lettuce into bite sided pieces, wash and dry well in a salad spinner (or if you don’t have one, dump into a tea towel and shake all of the water out).
Peel and grate the onion using a medium grater, then dump it into a saucepan. Turn on a medium to high heat and sautee with a knob of butter until the onion is translucent. Add the tinned tomato, two cloves of garlic, and tomato paste. Stir from time to time.
Rinse the salt off the eggplant and blot dry with paper towel. Get your griddle pan out and turn on a high heat. Grill the eggplant, brushing each side with olive oil and don’t be tempted to move the eggplant around the pan or else you won’t get nice grill marks. The eggplant should be soft and nicely coloured when ready to come off the pan. Lay on a large plate.
In a blender or food processor, pulse the olives in the oil (and optional anchovy fillets) until you get a coarse paste. Taste. Add some lemon juice to freshen up the flavour, and some more olive oil if the paste looks really thick.
In a large pan, add a generous amount of ghee / coconut oil / rice bran oil for shallow frying. Turn on a high heat and wait for the fat to get really hot before sliding in the meatballs. Never overcrowd the pan, and make sure the meatballs are distributed evenly around the pan. Fry until they are nicely browned and cooked through. Be careful not to overcook them or else you will have try and tough meatballs. Lay them onto a plate lined with paper towel.
Cut the bread rolls in half and toast each side on the grill. Butter the insides and lay one half on a plate for assembly. Taste the tomato sauce, and add salt, pepper, and sugar to balance the taste. To assemble: Spread a spoon of olive paste onto the bottom half of the bread. Next goes a few slices of eggplant, cos lettuce, then about 4 meatballs. Spoon the hot tomato sauce over the top and tear up some mozzarella or bocconcini to go over the top. Crack some pepper, drizzle some more extra virgin, put your sandwich’s top hat on, and serve immediately with a cold cider or ginger beer.