IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Turkey Meatball Hero Sandwiches

Missy Robbins's Turkey Meatball Hero SandwichesTODAY, November 11 2016.
Missy Robbins's Turkey Meatball Hero Sandwiches TODAY, November 11 2016.Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY


  • 4 pounds ground turkey
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup pecorino cheese, plus 4 tablespoons for garnish (preferably Pecorino Romano)
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1 onion, chopped fine and sweated
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine and sweated
  • Milk, to cover bread
  • 2 cups day old bread, torn and soaked in milk until completely soft
  • Salt to taste
Spicy tomato sauce
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 8 whole cloves garlic, plus 3 more cloves thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 32-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, drained and hand crushed, juice reserved
  • 1 tablespoons fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon dry chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons crushed fresh Calabrian chili in their oil
  • 5 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • Toasted slices of bread

    Chef notes

    Be the game day MVP with these turkey meatball hero sandwiches from New York City chef Missy Robbins.


    Make sauce:

    Place a wide pan over low heat.  Add olive oil and the whole garlic cloves, gently cooking them over medium-low heat until soft and slightly caramelized to golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.

    Once browned, add the sliced garlic and sauté briefly, just until aromatic but with no color. Add the tomato paste and cook until it achieves a deeply rich color, more maroon than red, and until some of the oil has absorbed into it, about 3-5 minutes.

    Add the crushed tomatoes along with half of the reserved tomato juice, salt, fennel seed and both chilies, dry and wet.

    Slowly simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the oregano. Remove the oregano stalks and add salt when the sauce is done. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.

    Make meatballs:

    In a large bowk, add the ground turkey, eggs, ½ cup of both cheeses, fennel seed, chili flakes, garlic powder, ¾ cup olive oil, sweated garlic and onions. Mix well until combined.

    Drain the bread from the milk and squeeze out excess liquid. Add the bread to the meat mixture and mix well until combined. Season with salt to taste.

    Make a small patty and heat a saute pan to medium high. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook to test seasoning. Adjust with more salt if needed.

    Form balls that are approximately 2-2.5 ounces; bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball. Lay the balls on an oiled sheet pan.

    Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.

    Place the meatballs in the oven and cook until roasted golden on the outside, about 5-8 minutes. They do not need to be cooked all the way through

    Add the balls to the warm sauce and cook on low heat until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes on gentle heat.

    Remove from the pot and place on toasted bread. Top with extra sauce, pecorino, chili flakes, olive oil and basil.