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Subways and Crockpot Meatball Subs

It’s cool today with a slight breeze moving through the house. Just a hint of fall in the air. Fall always takes my thoughts to the east coast. While summer favors the west, fall definitely shines its light the brightest to the east.

I lived in a small town called Wakefield, Massachusetts for three years when my children were small. It was a quaint New England township, steeped in history and dotted with churches the stones of which had been placed many centuries before. The town itself surrounded a beautiful natural lake with sweeping grassy areas that led down to mossy banks. Large canopies of trees lined up like sentries around the periphery that completed the picture.

I worked in Boston during those years, on Newberry Street. When weather permitted I would walk down to the Boston Commons and sit on a bench with a book and my lunch watching the cast of characters in the park and enjoying the sun on my face.

Some days I would walk down to the Italian section of the city and spend the hour exploring the wonderful delis replete with their nets of ripe cheese balls hanging from the ceiling, fabulous mold crusted salamis, and large glass jars filled with olives, pickled peppers, and garlic laden pickles. At the noon hour it was a zoo. Orders were furiously being called out in English and Italian behind the glass partitions and sandwiches on freshly baked crusty bread were being made to order.

My favorite, when I was really hungry, was a small deli towards the end of the street that made the most delicious meatball subs I’ve ever eaten. I wish I could have enticed the recipe out of the owner, who was a charming man in his mid sixties or thereabouts. His large shock of white hair and handlebar moustache made him look as though he should have been on a jar of Chef Boyardee spaghetti sauce. The recipe, I was told, had been passed down by his great-grandmother and was a well guarded family secret. The buns were dipped in a rich marinara sauce, topped with three generous meatballs, a squirt of oil and vinegar, peppers if you chose and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Truly, out of this world.

After work I took the subway to my car. First the red and then the blue line. I was an Area Director for the ACS so often I took work home with me to prepare for a presentation the following day. To get to the subway you went down a long staircase from the street and into the bowels of the city. If it rained, or there was ice or snow, which during the winter months was always, it could be treacherous. People push and shove in their haste to get home and in Boston they don’t stand on ceremony to stop and voice an opinion about your lineage if you get in their way.

One night, loaded with paperwork, and dressed for winter, I headed down the stairs, a sea of humans on the lower steps. On the second step I hit ice and lost my balance. As my hands were full, I had neither on the handrail. Pitched forward I did a sort of sloppy two-step past the first couple of people and then thrown forward picked up some serious speed.

Dancing gingerly over several other steps, paperwork now floating through the air like confetti at a Mayday Parade, I grabbed for something to slow me down. Unfortunately it was a man’s tie and his neck was still in it. He and I became intimately acquainted on the trip down and I’m quite sure that tie was never the same. Red faced, probably due to lack of oxygen from the tourniquet I had him in, he found himself in a rather personal embrace with a complete stranger at the bottom of the stairs. We were unhurt, fortunately, and he, after dusting himself off and inspecting himself for breakage, was good about it. The biggest thing for him, apparently, was how to explain to his wife that he had a noose mark around his neck.

As usual, I try to leave an impression wherever I’ve been. Try these out. They’re not Boston’s finest, but they’re good.

Crockpot Meatball Subs

6 Crusty rolls

olive oil Meatballs

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 lb. bulk pork sausage

Sauce

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup red wine

1/3 cup water

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. freshly chopped parsley

1/8 tsp. dried mint

 

For meatballs, combine eggs and milk. Add breadcrumbs, cheese and all seasonings. Add crumbled meat (finely crumbled). Mix well. Shape into 1″ balls. Heat olive oil on med-high in large skillet. Brown meatballs on all sides. Add to crockpot. Combine all sauce ingredients mixing well. Pour over meatballs. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove meatballs from sauce. Keep warm. Brush rolls with olive oil and put under broiler until lightly brown on top. Dip inside of rolls lightly in sauce in crockpot. Top with meatballs and extra sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired. Good stuff.

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