During the week, I typically eat Asian foods for dinner. They're easy to throw together and hits pretty close to home so I stick to what's comforting. But that also means that come the weekends, I'm craving all kinds of Western dishes. When I can't decide which cuisine to prepare, I'll do a fun fusion like this Mexican meatball sub. Take the idea of a classic meatball sub, add Mexican spices to the meatballs, chipotle to the sauce, and charred peppers and onions to the mix and you have one tasty fusion sandwich! I have gotta say, this one hits pretty close to home too.
Mexican Meatball Sub
- 1 lb ground turkey
- ½ cup panko
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoon milk
- ¼ onion finely grated
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Chipotle tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup red wine
- 1 canned chipotle plus 2 tablespoon adobo juices
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano dried
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- ½ red onion sliced
- 4 sandwich breads
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Make the meatballs by combining the turkey with panko, cilantro, egg, milk, grated onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper until well combined. Form the mixture into 12 medium meatballs and place them on a baking sheet. Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic until aromatic and lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the canned tomato, red wine, chipotle and adobo juices, paprika, cumin, oregano, and sugar. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover the pot and continue to simmer on low for 20 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute the red bell pepper and onion until softened and lightly charred, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- Assemble the sandwiches. Split open the sandwich bread and fill each with 3 meatballs with some sauce. Top with the charred peppers and onion and sliced mozzarella on top. Lay the sandwiches on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately with extra sauce on the side.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Ready to make one enticing Mexican meatball sub? Let's get to it!
If you've noticed in my latest meatball recipes, I've been sticking to white meats. It's an entirely personal decision but I prefer turkey or chicken over beef. White meat meatballs just end up more tender than beef ones but that's just my opinion. You can, of course, swap out the turkey in this recipe for whichever meat you prefer.
Mix your desired choice of meat with grated onion, garlic, fresh cilantro, panko, milk, and all the spices. To prevent the meatballs from being dry, avoid adding any more breadcrumbs than what the recipe calls for. It took me a long time to realize that it's better to have a wet meatball mix because it'll yield juicy tender meatballs.
If you're not a fan of cilantro, omit it completely or substitute it with parsley.
To test if the meatballs are properly seasoned, take a small portion and cook it in a pan on the stovetop. Shape the mixture into about 12 large meatballs and bake them in the oven for 10 minutes just to get them browned. We'll finish cooking them in the sauce later.
To make the tomato sauce, first, saute garlic until it's aromatic. Add the remaining ingredients including the canned tomatoes, red wine, chipotle, and spices. The chipotle will add a ton of flavor with just a small amount of heat.
Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, then add the meatballs, cover the pot, and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes.
While the meatballs are cooking, saute sliced bell peppers and red onion until lightly charred.
Now, this Mexican meatball sub wouldn't be complete without some melty delicious cheese, am I right? Stuff the sandwich bread with the meatballs and ladle some of the sauce on top. Top the meatballs with charred peppers and onions and slices of mozzarella cheese. Then, finish the sandwich in the oven, baking just until the cheese has melted. Serve the sandwiches immediately with extra sauce on the side.
I love an old fashion meatball sub but this Mexican variation sure does hit the spot! The smoky spices in the meatballs, chipotle in the sauce, and charred peppers all work together to give the classic sandwich a little Mexican flair. And it's quite delicious!
For more sandwich inspiration check out these Korean bbq beef sliders!