Thursday, December 3, 2009
Oh ho ho....meatball sliders! Where have these been all my life!? From the moment that Colleen from Colleen's Recipes typed this comment about my Meatballs in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce, "Congratulations on making your own meatballs! Now nothing can hold you back....meatball subs, meatball sliders, sweet & sour meatballs..." I have wanted to try my hand at meatball sliders. I'd never heard of such a thing, but they sounded irresistible. Plus, I took her advice on the meatball subs and boy, were they good! I knew that she wouldn't steer me...or should I say us (my family loved these) wrong. Albeit messy, these are the perfect size for little hands and ridiculously good.
The first time that I ever made meatballs, only a couple of months ago, I used Kraft Food & Family's "Best Meatballs" recipe. It was super easy. Just 4 ingredients (not counting salt and pepper): ground beef, Stovetop stuffing, eggs, and water. Now that I've gotten the hang of it, I decided to make my own meatball recipe. Plus, I was out of Stovetop and I had 3 containers of bread crumbs chillin' in my pantry. Last time I made a big batch of meatballs and froze most of them so that I ended up with 3-4 meals outta one batch of meatballs. I knew that I wanted to make lots o' meatballs again so that I'd have extra for future meals or appetizers. Because I'm not sure what I want to do with all of these meatballs yet, I wanted to make them sort of generic. That is, not too Italian. This way I can go Asian, Italian, or even Southwestern with the sauce and the meatballs will be flavorful, yet not overpowering and out of place. Does that make any sense?
Here's what I did:
I mixed 2 cups of bread crumbs (1 cup Italian, 1 cup plain), milk, water, Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, 4 eggs, minced garlic, finely chopped onion, 2 pounds of ground beef and one pound each of ground pork and veal.
For the sliders, I made some BIG meatballs. I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop the meatball mix and then I rolled them into balls with my paws.
I heated some oil in a skillet and added the meatballs.
Then I browned them on all sides.
Next, I poured in the sauce. You could just use a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce. I made my own this time, only because I was fresh out of prepared spaghetti sauce. I'm really glad that I did. This sauce rocked and it was really easy. The recipe is below. I covered the skillet and simmered the meatballs in the sauce for 20-30 minutes.
While the meatballs simmer, prepare the buns. I picked up a pack of dinner rolls from the deli section of my local grocery.
Slice them in half and then place them on a baking sheet. Brush with a little garlic butter and broil them until toasty.
Once the meatballs have sufficiently simmered, remove them from the skillet and keep warm. I transferred the sauce to a food processor and pulsed until it was more "sauce-like" and kid friendly (no chunks).
Now top the toasty bun bottoms with a meatball, sauce, and cheese. I had exactly 1 slice of provolone in my fridge and a bag of shredded mozzarella. I divided the cheese among the sliders and then put them back under the broiler until the cheese melted.
I served mine up with some veggies. Hey, meatball sliders may not be the healthiest sandwich, but at least I made them eat their vegetables! I'm tellin' ya...these sliders are delicious!
Once dinner was over, I finished my meatball project. I formed the rest of the mix into smaller meatballs. I scooped them up by heaping tablespoonfuls before rolling them into shape. Then I baked them for 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven until done.
I bagged the rest of the meatballs for the freezer. Dinners to come!
I've got bunches of holiday kitchen towels, but today I'm loving this one. Especially after my 5 year old decided to turn a laundry basket into a vehicle for launching herself off of the furniture and down the stairs and my toddler rubbed herself head to toe with a full stick of butter that was softening on my countertop for orange scone butter today. She is now sufficiently moisturized and has a hair-style reminescent of the movie "Grease". Calgon, take me away... If you think that I'm above throwing down the "Santa threat" then you are mistaken. : )
Here's the recipe....
For the meatballs:
*this makes plenty for 6-7 sliders plus about 60 extra smaller meatballs to freeze.
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
6-8 twists from the pepper mill
2 lbs. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground veal
4 eggs, slightly beaten
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, finely chopped
oil for browning
Place bread crumbs, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Add milk and water. Stir to moisten. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and then mix with clean hands until well mixed. For sliders: scoop out meatballs by 1/3 cupful and shape with hands. Transfer to heated oil in a skillet. Brown on all sides. Drain oil. Add sauce. Simmer, covered for 20-30 minutes. For additional meatballs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Form meatballs by scooping out in heaping tablespoonfuls and roll in hands. Bake on foil lined baking sheets for 15-20 minutes until done. Cool and freeze in freezer bags if desired.
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping teaspoon Tuscany blend seasoning (from my dipping spice quartet) According to the label, ingredients include: sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, bell peppers, and parsley
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1-15 oz. can whole tomatoes, undrained
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, undrained
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil in medium-sized sauce pan over medium high heat. Saute onion and garlic. Stir in spices. Add in the tomatoes. Simmer for at least 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce into meatball skillet. Simmer meatballs, covered, in sauce for 20-30 minutes. Remove meatballs and keep warm. Puree sauce in a food processor or blender until it reaches desire texture.
For the slider assembly:
6-7 dinner rolls
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup shredded provolone or mozzarella
Slice dinner rolls in half and place on a baking sheet. Melt butter in microwave safe bowl and stir in garlic salt. Brush rolls with garlic butter. Broil in oven until golden brown. Remove tops of rolls from baking sheet. Place one meatball on top of each roll half. Spoon on sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and broil until the cheese is melted. Top with the roll tops.
In addition to the sliders here are some the other meatball recipes that I can make with those meatballs from the freezer:
Meatballs in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
Next on my list to try: Meatball Chili!
I never knew that the meatball was so versatile. I'm lovin' it!