The ultimate meatball sandwich

The ultimate meatball sandwich


This really is the ultimate meatball sandwich: juicy pork and fennel meatballs, a rich tomato sauce, crunchy sweet fennel pickles and a nutty, dreamy pesto. My meatballs and tomato sauce are adapted from recipes in The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual, the must-have cookbook from the two chefs behind the popular NYC Frankies Spuntino restaurants.


Quantity Ingredient
butter, to spread
4 slices good-quality sourdough bread
olive oil, to grease
* walnut & rocket pesto [rid:32927]
2 good handfuls * sweet fennel pickles [rid:32890]

For the tomato sauce:

Quantity Ingredient
125ml olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes, chopped roughly or crushed with your hands
1 teaspoon sea salt

For the meatballs:

Quantity Ingredient
500g minced pork
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium egg
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped raisins
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 slice white bread, torn into very small pieces


  1. To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant and golden.
  2. Add the tomatoes and their juices along with the salt. Simmer for 3–4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. About an hour before your sauce is ready, make the meatballs. Combine the ingredients in a bowl until well mixed.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  5. Form the meatball mixture into golf ball-sized portions. Pat them down slightly and place them on a tray lined with baking paper.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned.
  7. Remove the meatballs from the oven and put them in the tomato sauce. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for around 20 minutes, until cooked through.
  8. To make the sandwich, spread the butter on one side of each slice of bread, and don’t be shy. If using a toastie maker, put 2 slices of bread, butter side facing down, on to the grill. If you don’t have a toastie maker, heat a large, heavy-based pan over medium heat and add a tiny dash of oil. Put 2 slices of bread, butter side facing down, in the pan.
  9. Now add the toppings in this order, making sure every inch of your bread is covered with something tasty: Walnut & Rocket Pesto, Sweet Fennel Pickles, meatballs and 2 extra spoonfuls of tomato sauce. Top the sandwiches with your remaining slices of bread, butter side facing up. If using a toastie maker, press down hard so things don’t start falling out, and toast until done.
  10. If using a pan, put a sheet of foil or baking paper on top of the sandwiches followed by a casserole dish (the weight of the dish will press the sandwich down). Fry over medium to low heat, until golden on one side, then flip over and repeat with the other side. Serve while still hot.
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