Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a Sandwich Contest, a Dream, and a Disappointment...

Well, the title of this post says it all, really.  I created a recipe for a sandwich competition, and sad to say, I lost.  I wasn't even a finalist.  Those judges rejected my recipe before they even tasted it.  Triple bummer.

The competition is being hosted by Mezzetta, and actually the winner won't be announced for a few more weeks, but they do have the top ten posted here.  I'm not on the list.  :(

After Jamie and I created our sandwich over Labor Day weekend, gave it a taste test (it's fantastic, by the way), and I submitted our entry online, I sat back and started dreaming.  I imagined how we were going to budget that $25,000, how my credit card would be paid off, how awesome that all-expenses-paid trip to Napa Valley was going to be...  Jamie warned me not to get my hopes up too much, but did I listen?  Nope.  And last night I came into the kitchen where he was making dinner while I was putting in some overtime for work, a sad mopey look on my face, and delivered the disappointing news.  We wouldn't be rich.  We wouldn't be going to Napa Valley.  I still have a credit card bill.

Well.  That's life.  But I have to say that even though our sandwich didn't make it, I still stand behind it and say it's a darn good sandwich!  Homemade pork meatballs stuffed with sweet and spicy cherry peppers, nestled in a warm tomato hoagie roll, smothered in marinara sauce, caramelized mushrooms, onions, and roasted marinated bell peppers, and topped with melty mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and a sprinkling of fresh basil...  what could be better than that?  Those silly judges don't know what they're missing.

I'll let you be the judge...  do YOU think I should be on that top ten list?  Not that it will change the verdict, but it might make me feel better...  :)

"Great Balls of Fire" - aka Spicy Meatball Marinara Sub
(makes 2 sandwiches)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Mezzetta Hot Cherry Peppers, diced, including the seeds
  • 3 Mezzetta Sweet Cherry Peppers, diced, including the seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Mezzetta Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups Napa Valley Bistro - Fire-Roasted Marinara
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Mezzetta Roasted Marinated Yellow and Red Sweet Peppers, sliced into strips
  • 2 tomato hoagie rolls with Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil

In a large bowl, combine ground pork, beaten egg, bread crumbs, garlic, Mezzetta hot cherry peppers, Mezzetta sweet cherry peppers, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Shape into 6 meatballs.

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons Mezzetta extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.  Cook the meatballs in the olive oil for 10 minutes, turning every 2 minutes to brown evenly on all sides.

Meanwhile, pour the Napa Valley Bistro - fire-roasted marinara into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low.  After the meatballs have browned in the skillet for 10 minutes, transfer the meatballs to the saucepan.  Cover and simmer in the marinara sauce over low heat for 20 minutes.

While the meatballs are simmering in the marinara, add 1 more tablespoon Mezzetta extra virgin olive oil to the skillet you used to cook the meatballs.  Add the onion and mushrooms and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook over medium heat for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms and onions are browned and slightly caramelized.  Add the Mezzetta Roasted Marinated Yellow and Red Sweet Peppers to the skillet and cook onions, mushrooms and peppers for an additional 2 minutes.

Preheat the broiler to low.  Split the hoagie rolls down the middle and scoop a few tablespoons of bread out of each to create a hollow center.  Discard excess bread.  Place the rolls on a baking sheet.

Place 3 meatballs inside each roll and spoon 2 tablespoons of the marinara sauce over the meatballs.  Pour the remaining marinara into small ramekins or dipping bowls to serve on the side.

Distribute the onions, mushrooms and roasted peppers on top of the meatballs.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and golden.

Top each sandwich with the chopped basil and serve with the remaining marinara sauce.  Enjoy!

Oh, and also, these meatballs are wonderful with spaghetti and marinara sauce!


  1. Thats a serious meatball sub! Everything looks great- Love the mushrooms in there too. YUM!!

  2. I'd vote for you!!! All that melted cheesy goodness has convinced me your sub is a WINNER~

  3. This amazing sandwich absolutely should have been on that list! It looks SO SO good!

  4. Sorry you lost. I think the sandwich is a winner.

  5. Your sandwich looks AMAZING! Yes, it looks much better than what I am seeing on the finalists page. I have entered a couple of contests like this and been rejected too. :( The one thing I noticed that separated my entries from the others were the prep and cook time. I always go for something GREAT tasting that may take a bit longer to cook, whereas it seems like a lot of these contests just want fast and GOOD tasting - but they don't tell you that. Don't give up, your recipes rock and your blog is great to read!

  6. I LOVE meatballs!! This sandwich is amazing! I voted for you!

  7. Just looked at the "winners" -- seemed like a lot of the same thing, or variations of it. Your sandwich looks SO much more interesting (no offense to the "chosen") -- pat yourself on the back for trying and don't give up on your dreams!

  8. You guys have made me feel so much better! I appreciate all the support! :)

  9. I SO would have voted for you...this sandwich is AMAZING! I'm sorry you didn't make the top 10...you should have!

  10. I think your sandwich looks AMAZING!!! You never know how those things go...it's so subjective!

  11. This should have been #1. It is in my book! I came home and if I had had all the ingredients, it would have been dinner. Now I have to go shopping . . .

  12. Hi, I loved your story and am sorry you didn't make the finals. You're sandwich is amazing! I entered the contest too and had a similar experience...funny. BTW...what's up with a turkey and avocado sandwich being in the finals? LOL Keep cooking...you're food looks amazing.


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