Anne Burrell Shares Her Top Tips For Making The Ultimate Meatball Sub

Anne Burrell smiling
Anne Burrell smiling - Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

While there's nothing wrong with simple sandwiches like ham and cheese or BLTs, when you want something hearty and packed full of flavor, nothing beats a classic meatball sub. And, while this hearty meal seems pretty easy to put together, there are a few things to know in order to create one that's top-notch.

Celebrity chef Anne Burrell, host of "Worst Cooks in America" on Food Network, spoke with the Daily Meal and provided some exclusive insights on how to make that happen. Her cooking background and culinary studies have focused on Italian cuisine, and her latest iteration in this area of expertise is her new spot, Anne Burrell's Italian Eats at section 102 in Citi Field, which she notes "is a collection of fun, yummy things that I would love to eat at a Ballpark."

Now, as for meatball subs, Burrell explains that each of the ingredients plays a key role in getting it perfect. "First of all, you need to start off with perfect meatballs," she emphasized -- although this is just the tip of the iceberg. The bread, cheese, and sauce all make a difference to your meal's flavor and texture, too. And Burrell also explained the best way to put the whole thing together.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Get Your Ingredients In Order

Meatballs, cheese, and tomatoes
Meatballs, cheese, and tomatoes - Rojoimages/Getty Images

A big part of creating a delicious meatball sub is getting juicy meatballs. Anne Burell says that she likes to cook her meatballs in the sauce, which ensures "the meatballs stay nice and moist." At the same time, it helps her marinara to get extra flavorful, infusing it with the meaty flavors from the protein.

If you're not interested in making homemade tomato sauce, you can also just zhuzh up a store-bought sauce to save a bit of time. Burrell notes she "might add some sautéed onions and garlic." You could also experiment with adding some fresh basil or other herbs, or adding anchovies to jarred marinara sauce to give it an umami boost. Another tip Burrell offers is to taste the marinara to ensure it has a balanced flavor. "Some jar sauces are pretty sweet, so you might need to add a little bit of salt to them." Then she adds, "On the flip side, if they are too acidic, then a little bit of sugar and definitely a little pinch of crushed red pepper."

Finally, while the main character in this meal is, of course, classic Italian meatballs, you can't forget about the cheese. Burrell notes that the best cheese is "definitely parm and then pizza cheese mozzarella, but not fresh mozzarella; it's too watery." Fresh mozzarella can contain 60% (or occasionally more) water, which can seep out into your sandwich.

Pay Attention To How You Put It Together

Meatball sub with halved meatballs
Meatball sub with halved meatballs - zmm415/Shutterstock

In addition to focusing on the flavor, Anne Burrell explains that the way you put the sandwich together matters, too. To begin with, she advises that you should toast your bread, as that's what "prevents it from getting really soggy." She then specified, "You don't have to toast it a lot. Just to get the bread a little bit crisp but no color!" That way, your bread can stand up to the sauces, meatball juices, and melted cheese.

On top of that, to get the perfect ratio of bread and meat in each bite, she suggests slicing your meatballs in half: "If you just put whole meatballs in, it's like you're biting through a giant chunk of meatballs, and then you have bread, and then you start on the next meatball." Halving them also ensures your meatballs, sauce, and cheese don't get pushed out of the sandwich when you bite into it. To further prevent this from happening, she advocates for "scooping the top half of the bread so that it completely encases the meatballs so it doesn't squeeze out anywhere." This would look like making indents that fit to the domed form of the meatballs, so the top layer of bread cradles the meatballs perfectly.

Advice On Portions And Finishing

close-up meatball sub with melted cheese
close-up meatball sub with melted cheese - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

When asked about ideal portions, Anne Burrell mentions that you don't want to overload your sandwich with meat. According to her, a good way to calculate that would be to think about how much you like to eat. For a 6-inch sub, she advises that you should add "2 [meatballs] if you're not a huge eater and 3 if you are a big eater," and double that if you're making a 12-inch sandwich.

With your meatballs squared away, you're ready to layer everything between your bread. Burrell shared this, "What I like to do for a 6-inch roll is do 2-3 meatballs cut in half and then a good layer of sauce, a good layer of parmesan, and a good layer of mozzarella." Then, she provides her key closing — to finish off the sandwich she toasts it again so the "cheese melts and gets all bubbly."

What About Meal Prepping?

Meatball sub with marinara
Meatball sub with marinara - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

While all Anne Burrell's tips are perfect for helping walk you through making the perfect meatball sub, sometimes, you may want to make some ahead, before your guests arrive. So, we asked Anne Burrell if you'll have to make any adjustments in the process.

Burrell notes that if this is the way you want to go, "You can assemble them, get them all done, and then wrap them in foil." The foil helps prevent the bread from going stale before you're ready to eat it. Then, when you're ready to serve, she explains that you "could throw the whole thing in the oven to reheat again for a little bit." Still, Burrell cautions, "I wouldn't go more than a couple hours in advance." Doing so could leave you with a meal that's gone soggy or stale. With that in mind, take Burrell's tips into your own kitchen, and make a meatball sub to enjoy now, or a bit later!

Read the original article on Daily Meal