YOU GUYS. Football season is almost here! The first Ducks game is three weeks from Saturday. OH MY FREAKIN’ GOSH. I can’t even believe it. And now I’m so antsy for it to get here that I have to do something football-related in the meantime… and so this is officially football-prep month at A Duck’s Oven.
I’ve had the idea for football-shaped meatballs floating around in my head for a long time. The other day I bought hamburger buns and some ground beef, simply intending to make burgers, when this idea came sneaking back into my head. And so the “football marinara” was born. Do you get it?! Like meatball marinara… but since they’re shaped like footballs, it’s football marinara! I just crack myself up.
Like I said, I had hamburger buns on hand so I decided to go with those for the sandwiches. And here’s my trick. I’m feeding two people, here. We certainly don’t need eight burger buns. So…
I used one of the buns for the bread that went into the meatballs!
Just dice it up into roughly 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch chunks. You’re gonna smash it up, so size doesn’t matter too much- just so long as it’s smashable.
Throw the bread chunks in a bowl and pour some buttermilk over them. Looks appetizing, huh? Let it sit for a few minutes so the milk can soak in.
Separate the yolk from an egg and discard the white. Or if you feel like being resourceful, you could save it for breakfast the next day.
Add the yolk, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, parmesan, minced garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper to the bread chunks. Stir it around and smash it up. Smash it up better than I did.
Add one pound of ground beef (or you could totally use pork, chicken, venison, elk, whatever floats your boat) and mix it all up. I highly recommend using your hands for this, but if you’re too squeamish you could use a spoon. But just suck it up! I stuck this in the fridge for a little while before shaping- it’s a little easier when the meat is cold.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Roll out balls of meat that are about 2 1/2 inches (ish… very ish) across and shape them into a football. This was way harder than you’d think it would be. My strategy was to roll them into a ball, squish them down slightly, then pinch the edges together.
Pop ’em in the oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until just cooked through. When they were almost done, I laid little strips of mozzarella on top to mimic football laces.
Then toast a bun, layer on some more cheese, top with sauce and a meatball, and ta da! You have football marinara. Easy, cute, and super delicious.
You may notice the football-countdown on the right of my blog… just in case you need help remembering 🙂 More football recipes to come!
- 1 hamburger bun (or two slices white bread)
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 1 lb ground beef (or ground meat of your choice)
- 12 slices mozzarella
- 1 12 oz. can of tomato sauce
- 1 12 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 5 hamburger buns
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray or coat in olive oil.
- Chop the first hamburger bun or slices of bread up into ½ inch by ½ inch squares (roughly). Combine them in a bowl with buttermilk. Let sit for about 5 minutes, or until bread is soaked.
- Add the yolk, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, kosher salt, pepper, minced garlic, parmesan, and onion powder to the bread and smash and combine with a rubber spatula or fork until paste-like in consistency. Add the ground beef and combine using your hands until well-incorporated.
- Separate the ground beef into ten same-sized balls. Roll each into a round ball squish down slightly, and pull two ends together to create the football shape. Line them up on the foil-lined cookie sheet.
- Bake the meatballs in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through.
- While they’re cooking, combine the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder in a medium sized sauce pan on medium-low heat. Cook for a few minutes to heat. If you like a chunky sauce, leave as is. If you like a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to break up the tomatoes. It’ll be a thick sauce.
- Cut one of the slices of mozzarella into thin strips. Immediately after removing the meatballs from the oven, arrange the strips as laces on the meatballs.
- Toast the remaining hamburger buns. Top the buns with a meatball, 1-2 slices of mozzarella, and sauce. Cheese will melt slightly from the heat of the sauce and meatballs, but if you want it to be really melty, put sandwiches under the broiler for a minute or so.