We Made Joey's Meatball Sub From the Friends Cookbook—Is It the 'Greatest Sandwich in the World?'

PEOPLE editorial assistant Mary Honkus made Joey Tribiani's all-time favorite sandwich from the new Friends cookbook to see if it's really worth taking a bullet for

This year has brought us a bunch of cookbooks inspired by pop-culture — including The Golden Girls Cookbook and Marvel Eat the Universe. But the one that I completely geeked out over was Friends: The Official Cookbook, and it just so happens to be one of PEOPLE's 2020 Food Faves.

Friends has always been one of my favorite shows (I even cried when I finished the series, don't judge). And now I just happen to live in a real-life version of the sitcom: 15 of my closest friends and I live in the same building. So when I got my hands on the new cookbook, I knew we'd have to get together to make something from the book.

Friends cookbook
Mary Honkus
Friends cookbook
Mary Honkus

It was tough to decide from over 90 recipes included — from Ross's Moist Maker Sandwich to Rachel's Meat Trifle — but we ultimately chose to make Joey's Meatball Sub because it's apparently "the greatest sandwich in the world."

joey and his meatball sub on friends

I had never eaten a meatball sub before, so I had high expectations for Joey's. I mean, he even sprang to protect this sandwich from what he thought was gunfire so it has to be good, right?

Before the whole gang got together I prepped Joey's Marinara Sauce, which is also from the book. Loaded with garlic and tons of fresh herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme, and basil, my apartment smelled like an Italian restaurant within an hour. *Chef's kiss*

Friends cookbook
Mary Honkus

Six of my friends — Nico, Mikella, Marie, Taylor, Krystyna, and Morgan — came over to cook. Since none of us are the best chefs ever, we lit a Phoebe candle for inspiration, guidance, and good vibes before we began.

The recipe itself was pretty simple but required quite a bit of prep work. Three of us were assigned to chopping more fresh herbs and onions. My small New York City apartment isn't equipped with the best knives in the world, so it took us close to 20 minutes to properly chop all the ingredients.

After we finished prepping, the next step was to combine all the ingredients — ground pork, ground beef, onion, oregano, parsley, thyme, basil, bread crumbs, red wine, eggs, and pine nuts — with our hands until they were fully incorporated. I took the lead with that since almost everyone was afraid to touch raw meat.

Friends cookbook
Mary Honkus

We almost had a crisis when I realized I forgot to buy breadcrumbs, but luckily Nico had some just three flights up — one of the many perks of living in the same building.

One thing Joey said about this sandwich in the show was that "half the taste is in the smell," and he wasn't wrong. As the ingredients combined, a fresh, herbaceous aroma filled the apartment. We made sure not sniff too much so we wouldn't suck up all the "taste-units." (Joey would be proud.)

After the meatballs were formed, we threw them in the oven and let them cook until golden brown for 20 minutes. One of the things I love about the cookbook is that each recipe is paired with an episode of Friends, so while the meatballs baked we watched "The One With the Ride-Along" and laughed along the whole time.

Friends cookbook
Mary Honkus

To deepen the flavors and finish cooking, the meatballs then simmered in the homemade marinara sauce for 15 minutes after baking. While they sat in the sauce bath, we toasted fresh hero rolls in the oven with mozzarella slices before finally assembling the subs.

We were all so excited to take a bite of these massive sandwiches, and they did not disappoint. The use of fresh seasonings took the meatballs to the next level.

"I feel like the herbs are what sets these apart from other meatball sandwiches," said my roommate, Mikella. "It has a fresh herb flavor as opposed to dry herb flavor."

Nico even went as far as to say that these were better than his mom's meatballs.

Friends cookbook
Mary Honkus
Friends cookbook
Mary Honkus

And while none of us thought the sandwiches were worthy of taking a bullet for like Joey almost did, we all agreed that this was one of the best sandwiches we've had in a long time.

There's nothing quite like cooking with my friends, and I can't wait to try more recipes from Friends: the Official Cookbook, which is available now for $29.99 on Amazon. Check out my full Joey's Meatball Sub adventure above or on my YouTube channel.

Joey's Meatball Sub

3/4 lb. ground pork

3/4 lb. ground beef

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. oregano, measured and roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. parsley, measured and roughly chopped, plus more for garnish

2 Tbsp. thyme, measured and roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. basil, measured and roughly chopped

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/3 cup red wine

2 eggs

1/3 cup pine nuts

3 cups marinara sauce

6 6-in. Italian sub rolls

12 slices mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, use your hands to combine the ground pork, ground beef, onion, oregano, parsley, thyme, basil, bread crumbs, red wine, eggs, and pine nuts. Be careful not to overmix, as this will make the mixture tough.

3. Form meatballs 2 to 3-inches in diameter. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes

4. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the marinara sauce. Once the meatballs are baked, place them in the marinara sauce and allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

5. While meatballs are simmering, cut the Italian subs three-quarters of the way open. Place 1 or 2 slices of cheese inside and place subs on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven until the cheese is soft and melted, about 5 minutes.

6. Once the subs are ready, place 3 or 4 meatballs inside each sub, being sure to include some of the sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley to serve.

Serves: 6

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