2000s Recipes + Menus

Meatball Sliders

Makes20 small sandwiches
  • Active time:1 1/4 hr
  • Start to fnish:1 1/2 hr
August 2007
Food editor Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez often cooks for hordes of children, including her three-year-old son, Alex, and she knows that meatballs are always an easy sell. Inspired by the tiny meatball sandwiches served at New York City’s Little Owl restaurant, she came up with these kid-size treats that can be eaten with one hand (leaving the other one free to wreak kid-size havoc).

For tomato sauce

  • 2 (28-oz) cans whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

For meatballs

  • 3 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (6 slices firm white sandwich bread)
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground beef chuck (not lean)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano (1/4 lb)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups vegetable oil

For assembling sliders

  • 20 small (2-inch) soft buns or rolls, split

Make tomato sauce:

  • Purée tomatoes with their juice, 1 can at a time, in a blender and transfer to a bowl.
  • Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté onion until golden, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomato purée, sugar, bay leaf, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 40 to 50 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

Make meatballs while sauce simmers:

  • Stir together bread crumbs and milk in a large bowl and let stand 10 minutes. Add meat, garlic, cheese, eggs, parsley, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and blend with your hands until just combined well (do not overmix). Form level 1/4-cup portions into meatballs.
  • Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then fry meatballs, about 6 at a time, turning occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels with a slotted spoon.

Simmer meatballs in sauce and assemble sliders:

  • Add drained meatballs to tomato sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are heated through.
  • Assemble sliders with a meatball and 1 tablespoon sauce per bun, securing each with a wooden pick.
Cooks’ note: Meatballs in sauce can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, uncovered, until cool, then covered. Reheat before serving.
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