These are so over-the-top fantastical. I already told you unironically that sandwiches are my favorite food, and this right here is why. This Italian sub is soft and melty and rich and saucy and toasty. It is gorgeous to look at. It smells divine. You know instantly you are about to be a delighted eater. I want these on football days with giant piles of salty chips and freezing ice-cold Shiner beer. Voilà! Perfect game-day food.
Fun fact: When my eldest son was in college, he texted me the following: “Do I have what I need to make rice?” (Bless.) I texted back, “All you really need is rice, twice that amount of liquid, and voilà!” He replied, “I don’t have any voilà. I don’t even know what that is.” Jesus, take the wheel.
Reader, look at the separate words in the title of this recipe: Garlic. Butter. Italian. Sausage. Subs. These should comprise the five levels of the new food pyramid. Remember how the bottom level used to be “grains” and we were instructed to eat at least eight servings a day? Nutritionists were like, “Greens? Half an ounce. Processed bread? A loaf a day.” This probably explains my sandwich obsession. I was brainwashed by the Wonder Bread lobby.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 pound ground hot Italian sausage
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup dry red wine
3 cups House Sauce (see below; this needs an hour, so start it early or make it in advance)
Salt and black pepper
1½ cups chopped fresh basil (reserve ½ cup for garnish)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large garlic clove, chopped
FOR ASSEMBLING THE SAMMIES
6 soft sub rolls, sliced lengthwise but not all the way through (like a hot dog bun)
12 slices provolone
12 slices mozzarella
½ cup chopped red onion
Make the sausage mixture: Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and sausage and sauté until the sausage is browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook to reduce it, about 2 minutes. Finally, pour in the House Sauce and season with a generous dose of salt and black pepper. Turn the heat to low and let this simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir in 1 cup of the basil (reserve the rest for garnishing the sammies). This saucy, meaty mixture can now become a million things. Pour it over noodles, layer it between lasagna noodles, sauce your English muffin pizzas, fill your zucchini boats or stuffed peppers, make an Italian shepherd’s pie, smother your baked potatoes use for Shakshuka, the sky’s the limit.
Meanwhile, preheat the broiler and combine your garlic butter ingredients in a bowl.
To assemble your sammies, slather the inside of each sub roll with a ton of garlic butter and load them onto a baking sheet, sliced-side up. Slide the pan onto the lowest oven rack and broil for about 1 minute, until the butter has melted.
Take the rolls out of the oven and layer each like this: 2 slices of provolone, sausage mixture, 2 slices of mozzarella. Pop the subs back under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until the cheese has totally melted and is starting to bubble and the rolls are toasty on top. Don’t walk away from these, home cook. The broil stage of any recipe is precarious. It’s like, “Getting there, getting there, perfect, BURNT!”
Sprinkle the subs with the onion and reserved basil. Grab your favorite crunchy chips, pop the top on an ice-cold beer, and voilà!
You can dial the sauciness up or down with more or less House Sauce.
Makes 6 cups
Okay, that’s it. We’re not effing around with Trash Sauce anymore (page 103). You know I hate to be dramatic (lol), but this tomato/marinara sauce is all my dreams come true. I make this once a week. I’ll include the doubled recipe quantities, because if you aren’t doubling your House Sauce to freeze half for next time, you need to go to church and get saved.
First, a word about the tomatoes: I use Muir Glen, and there is nothing you can say to change my mind. Just do not get some janky tomatoes from the bottom shelf. I am so serious. In the summer, fresh, homegrown tomatoes would be the star of this recipe, obvs, but are we really going to boil and peel twenty tomatoes when we can just open a can? We are not.
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 large or 8 small garlic cloves (not at all sorry), chopped
1 (28-ounce) can organic tomato puree
1 (15-ounce) can organic crushed tomatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste (start with 1 tablespoon)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a Dutch oven or other large pot over low heat and cook for 3 minutes, until it starts to smell like heaven’s kitchen. Add the tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste and whisk, whisk, whisk until all that delicious flavored oil is incorporated. This takes longer than I like, but we have to incorporate the oil entirely so it doesn’t separate.
Turn the heat up and bring the sauce to a boil, then drop it back down to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. The flavors develop after cooking, so let it be for a while, then taste, taste, taste. All those measurements are up for grabs, by the way. You get this sauce how you like it; taste and adjust the sugar, vinegar, and spice to YOUR LIKING.
This is my go-to red sauce for all things pasta/ Italian, but if you want your sauce a little thicker for pizza, more like a marinara (which I do), make a quick slurry by whisking 2 tablespoons cornstarch into a bit of water, then stir it into the sauce at the end. It will thicken up the whole pot like magic.
Remove from the heat and let cool, then pop half the sauce into a zip-top bag or airtight container and freeze it for next time. (Hell, make a VAT of this and store 8 portioned containers in the freezer. Future you will thank vat-of- House-Sauce you.)
From Feed These People by Jen Hatmaker. Copyright © 2022 by Jen Hatmaker. Reprinted by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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