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I love creating new and exciting meals but sometimes the classics can be pretty magical as well. The classics are classics for a reason! There aren't any new flavors in this venison meatball sub recipe but there are a few tips and tricks to make your sandwich the best it can be. So if you have some ground venison and you love melty cheese and toasty bread, keep reading because this recipe is for you!
How to make tender venison meatballs:
Do your venison meatballs always come out chewy and dry? This recipe will fix all of your meatball woes! They're easy to make and always come out perfect. There are a few key ingredients that you need to make tender, flavorful venison meatballs. First, you need a binder. Eggs and breadcrumbs are commonly used but there's one ingredient that's not always used: milk. When you mix together the egg, breadcrumbs, and milk, it creates a paste that becomes the perfect binder for meatballs. The milk helps keep the meatballs super moist and tender. They don't dry out because the mixture locks the moisture in.
After you have the binder, it's important to add some flavor! These meatballs are pretty simple in terms of ingredients but they have tons of flavor from the parmesan cheese, onions, garlic, and fresh parsley. The mixture might be softer than you expect but that's what makes them so good! These meatballs have the perfect texture and flavor to complement the marinara sauce for a delicious meatball sub!
How to form meatballs:
There's a secret weapon that every meatball connoisseur needs in their arsenal: the cookie scoop. They come in many different designs and any size you need. This one is the perfect size to make meatballs for meatball subs but you can definitely go bigger or smaller. The point of using a cookie scoop for meatballs is to get a uniform size, not necessarily a uniform shape. If you can get a perfect meatball to pop out of a cookie scoop, good for you! But I find that they still need a little shaping after scooping.
After mixing up your meatball mixture, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Then use a cookie scoop to scoop them out onto the pan. Once all of the mixture has been scooped, you can roll individual meatballs. To roll them, place the scooped mixture between your hands and gently move your hands in opposite directions in a rolling motion. Keep going until they're (almost) perfect. Don't squish them too much during the rolling process to keep them tender. Line them up on the sheet pan and they're ready to cook! You can also refrigerate them for up to a day in advance of cooking.
How to cook venison meatballs:
I've tried pan-frying, frying, and baking meatballs and there's only one method that always turns out perfect for me: baking. There are a few reasons why baking meatballs works so well. First, you don't have to flip or turn partially-cooked meatballs and risk them falling apart. Second, the heat from the oven reaches the whole outside of the meatball which leads to perfect browning on the outside while leaving the inside moist and tender. Third, it's easy! Wouldn't you rather line up all the meatballs on a sheet pan, pop them in the oven and forget about them (for a little while) instead of having to turn each individual meatball in a pan? I know I do! If you've never tried baking your meatballs, you should start with this recipe!
To bake meatballs with minimal cleanup, start with a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Parchment paper keeps the meatballs from sticking to the pan and makes for a simple clean-up. You can use foil as well but the meatballs are more likely to stick. Bake in a hot oven, around 425 degrees F. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until outsides are browned and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Then you can add the meatballs to the sauce (marinara in this case) and simmer them for a bit. They're much easier to transfer to the pan of sauce after they've been baked!
How to make meatball subs:
Once you have your meatballs and sauce, you only need 2 more ingredients: bread and cheese! Toasting the bread and melting the cheese is an essential process for this recipe but you can do it in one step! Assemble your sandwich by cutting open the hoagie rolls but leave one side uncut for easier handling. Place 5 meatballs on one side of the hoagie and spread some extra sauce on both sides. Place 2 slices of provolone or mozzarella cheese over the meatballs and sauce. Leave it open and broil it on a sheet pan for 2-3 minutes and voila! Perfectly toasted bread and gooey melted cheese with perfectly delicious and tender venison meatballs. You can't beat it!
Venison Meatball Sub Sandwich
- 1 lb ground venison (or other lean ground meat)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup finely diced onions (or 1 teaspoon onion powder)
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cups marinara sauce (about 1 ½ jars)
- 12 slices provolone cheese
- 6 hoagie rolls
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- To a medium bowl add egg, milk, bread crumbs, and olive oil. Mix together with a whisk. Let mixture sit while you prepare other ingredients (onions, garlic, parsley, etc.), about 5 minutes.
- Add meat, parmesan, onion, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper to bowl. Mix together with your hands until well combined.
- Roll mixture into 30 meatballs, about 1 ¾ tablespoon each. Place on parchment paper-lined pan, evenly spaced. Bake for 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- While meatballs are cooking, add 2 cups marinara sauce to an electric skillet or large skillet. Bring to a simmer.
- When meatballs are done cooking, remove from oven. Turn oven to low broil and line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
- Add meatballs to marinara sauce. Pour remaining 2 cups marinara sauce over meatballs. Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Cut hoagie rolls in half but leave one long side connected. Open each roll and lay flat on sheet pan.
- To each hoagie roll, add 5 meatballs to one side of the roll. Spread 2 tablespoon marinara on the other half of the roll. Break cheese slices in half and place 2 halves over each side of the roll, 2 whole slices per sandwich.
- Broil for 2-3 minutes or until bread is slightly toasted and cheese is melted. Close sandwich by folding top of roll over the meatballs. Enjoy!
- Note: Meatballs can be prepped up to 2 days in advance before baking. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To Freeze: Prepare meatballs and place on parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Freeze until solid. Place frozen meatballs in freezer zippered bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place on parchment paper-lined sheet pan and thaw overnight under refrigeration. Follow cooking instructions above.