This panini recipe from the Perfect Panini cookbook creates a classic meatball sandwich and has you make the sauce, breadcrumbs and meatballs from scratch. Additionally I made a change that tasted great, but wasn't without it's problems. I grilled the meatballs instead of browning them in the oven or in a frying pan. This created a few problems: the meatballs were soft & I was worried they wouldn't stay on the skewers I wanted to use without some extended time in the fridge. I placed them directly on the grill and although I had oiled the grill, I needed to use a little more oil because I had some "stickage" problems. Where these meatballs were getting sliced up to go on the paninis I didn't sweat the few meatballs that stuck a bit to the grill grate. The paninis had great flavor, but the sauce was a bit controversial. Three folks thought the sauce was bland, two thought is was great with lots of subtle flavors. I was in the bland camp but I have to disqualify myself because I was standing out in the smoke while grilling the meatballs. My taste buds probably can't be trusted. So we'll call it a draw. All I know is next time I will make a different sauce. The fact there will be a next time tells you the rest of the recipe was great.
The first step was to sautee some onions & garlic
The sauce used Italian Seasoning, garlic, petite diced tomatoes, salt & pepper
The ingredients were added to the pan with the onions & they were simmered for 20 minutes. Lastly they were pureed with an immersion blender.
The meatballs started the same way, by sautéing some onions & garlic.
The recipe suggested fresh breadcrumbs, so I took some Portuguese rolls which were at their sell-by date and cut them into strips and dried them out in a 350 degree oven. Then they were coarsely cut up.
The meatballs used: Italian seasoning, oregano, salt, olive oil, milk, pepper, chopped fresh parsley, breadcrumbs, grind beef & ground pork.
The breadcrumbs were soaked in milk for 5 minutes.
The remaining ingredients, except for the meat, were added next.
After the meat was added & mixed, I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure out equal portions of the mixture which was formed into the meatballs
The meatballs were grilled for 5 minutes a side x 4 sides. I did have some "stickage" issues & next time I will use a grill basket or more oil on the grate. Where the meatballs get sliced up it wasn't a big deal, other than I should have known better with such soft meatballs.
Assembly time: The rolls were cut from a loaf of ciabatta & brushed on the outside with olive oil.
The insides of the bottom slices of ciabatta bread receive half of the tomato sauce.
The thinly sliced mozzarella cheese comes next.
The meatballs were sliced and are added next.
The remaining sauce is next.
The last item to go on was some chopped pepperonchini.
The Egg was preheated & stabilized at 375 degrees. The paninis grilled for 6 minutes.
Time to eat! A fresh garden salad completed this tasty meal.