Italian Meatball Sub with Fennel, Basil Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella – Top Chef Night

With the Top Chef finale over and the fancy duck cooked, we decided to back track to something that looked delicious from one of our favorite chefs — the Italian meatball sub by Tiffany Derry from the baseball concession stand episode. This served the dual purpose of being mouth-watering and relatively easy to make — helpful as this was our last meal in the original Top Chef kitchen (K’s townhouse) and kitchen implements were quickly disappearing into boxes.

I had ground beef from farmer Diane at Nature’s Little Farms and K picked up the ground pork so we combined them with a dearth of spices to get the meatballs started. Hands are the best kitchen tools and K’s were covered in meat so I added the spices and (in my opinion) may have overdone it on the chili powder and cayenne.

I started the tomato sauce with garlic and wine. Then it was my turn to get my hands dirty and squish tomatoes. The sauce simmered away with chicken stock, but never got as thick as I thought it would.

While K sautéed the meatballs, I sautéed the onions and peppers and sliced up the fresh mozzarella. K toasted the baguette and boom … we were ready to eat!

We added the meatballs to the tomato sauce and spooned it on top of the bread, topped with peppers and onions, popped a little store-bought pesto over the veggies and put melty mozzarella on the whole mess. And messy it was. It was too messy to eat as a sandwich and turned out to be a knife and fork affair (not sure how this might have worked at a baseball game). But wow was it ever a good sandwich! The meatballs were juicy and spicy (I thought too spicy, K thought perfect), the sauce was tart and the peppers were sweet and still a bit crispy. The milky, melted mozzarella mellowed the whole thing out.

Don’t bother with the gross “bakery fresh tasting” frozen subs you nuke in the microwave. This was quick, easy and so tasty we’ll definitely be making it again.

Italian Meatball Sub with Fennel, Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella

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