I made a few swaps, first being that I somehow managed to buy chicken stock 3 weeks in a row, but no beef broth. I had a 14.5 oz can of Diced tomatoes with herbs on hand, I tossed that and all the other ketchup ingredients into the food processor and gave them a whirl. My guys don't like super spicy, I used just a few flakes of the crushed red pepper, and I never ever have fresh basil in the house, so I used dried.
I doubled the recipe for the burgers. I rarely can get any kind of onion by my guys, so my go to is dried minced onion from Penzey's. Since it was grated in this recipe, next time I may give it a try with the real thing. I used my square burger press to make enough patties for dinner, and then the remaining mixture I scooped into balls to cook and freeze**
This isn't a fast meal, or a meal for a dieter LOL It was filling, delicious, cheesy, meaty, crispy, tomatoe-y goodness on a plate. Thank you so much to Deborah at Taste and Tell for this recipe, and please, hop over to her blog and check out her pictures. I am a mediocre photographer at best, but factor in a rainy day and my only light source being energy saving bulbs, and my pictures are not spectacular. I rushed, because I wanted to eat :)
Meatball Patty Melts
Balsamic Marinara Ketchup:
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup beef stock -- used chicken broth
2 cloves garlic -- minced, used jarred
1 can tomato sauce -- minced fine
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Pinch crushed red pepper -- tiny, tiny pinch
Torn basil leaves -- used dried
2 slices white bread -- crusts removed
Milk (for soaking bread)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley -- finely chopped, used dried
2 cloves garlic -- minced, used jarred
3 tablespoons grated onion -- used dried
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic -- minced, used jarred
8 slices sturdy Italian-American bread -- sliced 3/4-inch thick
8 slices deli-cut mozzarella
8 slices deli-cut provolone -- (omitted)
For the ketchup-
Combine tomato paste, stock and garlic in the food processor. Add diced tomatoes, balsamic, brown sugar, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper. Pulse until all the tomato chunks are gone, and pour into a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 20 to 25 mins.
For the burgers-
Soak bread in milk in a large bowl for a few minutes. Squeeze out the excess, discard the milk and return the bread to the bowl. Add beef, pork, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, onion and Parmesan. Mix lightly until well combined, but don't overwork the meat or your patties will be tough. I formed my patties using my square burger press.
Build your sandwiches-
Lay out four slices of bread. Add sliced mozzarella to each. Spoon balsamic ketchup on and spread slightly. Top with burger patties, more balsamic ketchup and another slice of mozzarella. Top with remaining slices of bread. Brush the top piece of bread with garlic butter mixture and then put the buttered side down on the griddle. I used a weighted press for my sandwiches. When the first side was golden brown, I garlic buttered the top pieces of bread, flipped them and replaced the press. Cook until the second side is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
**For the meatballs-
Shape mixture into walnut sized balls. I used a cookie scoop to keep them uniform, but didn't pack the mixture in, just lightly ran it across. Form into ball shape with palms. Repeat with remaining mixture. Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet (one with a lid, you'll need it later). Add meatballs and shake handle of the pan to brown on all sides evenly. Do not overcrowd the pan, it's better to do them in batches so the meatballs crisp up instead of steaming. When desired browness had been reached, the meatballs will not be cooked through. I added the leftover balsamic ketchup and enough Ragu Traditional sauce to about halfway up the meatballs. Simmer for 30 to 60 mins, until they are cooked through. Serve immediately with the pasta of your choice, in sub rolls, or cool and freeze in sauce for later use.