• Cheeseburger Meatball Subs


By Andrew Zimmern

I have wanted to try this version of meatballs for a while because I am really obsessed with all kinds, from all cultures and food traditions. They are light when rolled properly and not overcooked. Meatballs are versatile and can be made quickly on a weeknight with ingredients of all types.

Grilled Japanese duck or chicken tsukune, sizable Italian pork and veal meatballs for pasta, little ones for soup, my grandmother’s beefy sweet & sour meatballs, Vietnamese pork meatballs for banh mi, soups or spicy stir fries, shrimp-balls for Thai curries, Swedish meatballs in gravy … grilled, poached, baked, broiled, pan seared, skewered by the bunch or in singles, tooth-picked out of a large bowl — even doused with BBQ sauce on game day, I can’t stop.

So the other night I whipped these up on the fly, and they were so ridiculously good that I wanted to share right away. I think when I make these again I will lay the string cheese across the cut in the roll so that the melted cheese holds it all together and gets crispy as it drips down the sides, and I will broil them — and remember to take better pictures before I scarf them all down. One thing that really makes this version sing is the tomato/vinegar/sugar bath that these balls take after lightly searing. You wont be able to stop eating them.




In a bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon chile flakes, 2 teaspoons oregano, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1.5 cups of grated cheese (I used a small block of jalapeño cheddar that had been lying around for like a year), 3 diced onions caramelized really well and cooled, 1 lb. of ground beef, ¼ cup half-and-half, 1 beaten egg and about 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs.

Mix well and roll out the balls. Don’t compact them; roll them lightly and set them aside.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a very large sauté pan over medium heat. Before the pan or oil gets too hot, sear the balls on two sides. When they are lightly browned on both sides, add a few tablespoons of sugar, a few tablespoons of white vinegar and a few cups of chopped tomatoes in their own juices. You can use tomato purée if that’s all you have.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes over low heat until sauce is reduced and tight. Season and stuff some balls and sauce into a large toasted hero roll, top with pulled strands of string cheese (I like to use that because it’s a drier, slightly saltier mozzarella) or anything you care to and melt with a torch or under the broiler.

Recipe Finder

Back to Recipes Page