Meatball Grinder


I grew up calling these grinders.  When I went to college, half the people called them hoagies, half the people call them subs.  Where I live now, everyone just calls them sandwiches – although to me, they will always be grinders.  I crave meatball grinders – with lots of fresh mozzarella melted on top surrounded by a fresh white roll that is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  There are a few places where I can get something similar, but they just don’t have that same overall end result.  In Bon Appetit last month they had a whole section on different types of meatballs – and as I was reading the recipe for the traditional spaghetti and meatballs – all I could think about were those meatball grinders I grew up with.  I adapted the recipe slightly below, and decided instead of serving them over pasta, I would melt cheese on top and put them between a wonderful baguette.  The meatballs were fabulous – the combination of the bacon and roasted red peppers were just amazing – so wonderfully flavorful.  They were so good that when the grinders were finished, we went back for more meatballs – and just ate them with sauce.



  • 6 ounces uncured applewood-smoked bacon (about 6 slices), diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 pound ground turkey thighs
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 2/3 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from jar
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated onion
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram


  • Fresh baguette or Italian bread
  • Grated mozzarella cheese



Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place bacon in processor. Using on/off turns, grind to coarse paste. Transfer to large bowl. Using garlic press, squeeze in garlic. Gently mix in turkey and all remaining ingredients. Let stand 15 minutes.

Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Using moistened hands and scant 2 tablespoonfuls for each, roll meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.

Put meatballs into the oven and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes or until slightly browned and cooked through.


Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat and sauté onions until soft.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute or until brown.  Add tomatoes, red pepper, salt and marjoram.  Cover and simmer and for 30 minutes or until flavors combine.

Assemble the sandwich

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the bread into 6-inch long sections, then slice in half.  Place meatballs on top of bread, cover with sauce, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.   Place the other piece of bread next to the one with the meatballs and sauce on the baking sheet.  Put into the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until mozzarella is nicely melted.  Put the other slice of the bread on top of the meatballs and serve.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Meatball Grinders

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9 thoughts on “Meatball Grinder

  1. We love turkey meatballs in our house, and adding bacon and roasted red pepper must put them over the top! I am definitely going to make these for my husband.

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