Spicy Italian Meatball Peacemaker

Air date: August 23, 2018

Prep Time: 2 hours

Yields: 6 servings


There are many different claims to the origin of the po'boy, but the most commonly accepted belief is that it was created in New Orleans by Benny and Clovis Martin during a streetcar strike in 1929. The Martins created an inexpensive sandwich made of Louisiana-style French bread and loaded with meat or seafood. The local restaurant workers began referring to the strikers as "poor boys," and it wasn't long before the sandwich gained that same name. Today, po'boys are made with nearly every type of meat from fried seafood to deli-style ham and even meatballs. After a night of drinking and carousing in the French Quarter, the dockworkers of early New Orleans would often bring an overfilled po'boy to their family at daybreak as an offering of peace. This ultimate po'boy sandwich became known as the peacemaker.

Ingredients for Meatballs:

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

6 eggs

1 cup minced onions

1 cup minced celery

½ cup minced bell peppers

¼ cup minced garlic

¼ cup chopped basil

1¾ cups seasoned Italian bread crumbs

2 tbsps salt

2 tbsps black pepper

Method for Meatballs:

In a large mixing bowl, combine beef and pork. Using your hands, blend meat well. Add Parmesan, eggs, onions, celery, bell peppers, minced garlic, basil, and bread crumbs. Continue to blend then season with salt and pepper. In a small skillet, fry a small patty of meat mixture to test seasoning. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Roll meatballs to desired size. Meatballs should be slightly larger than a golf ball. Place on a cookie sheet, cover, and refrigerate. This recipe will make approximately 20 meatballs.

Ingredients for Po'boy:

4 (35-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes with juice

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups diced onions

1 cup diced celery

¼ cup minced garlic

¼ cup chopped basil

salt and black pepper to taste

granulated garlic to taste

6 loaves po'boy bread

Method for Po'boy:

Drain tomatoes through a sieve and retain juice. Chop tomatoes into ¼-inch pieces, return to juice and set aside. In a 3-gallon saucepot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and minced garlic. Sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Stir in tomatoes with juice and basil. Bring to a low boil, reduce to simmer, and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gently drop raw meatballs into sauce. Return sauce to a simmer. Do not stir for first 10 minutes of simmering or meatballs will break. When stirring, use a wooden spoon and move the meatballs gently. Simmer 1 hour, adding water or chicken stock if sauce becomes too thick. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. To serve, place 3–4 meatballs on each po’boy and top with a generous portion of sauce. You may wish to top with additional crumbled feta. Serve hot.