A cross between a meatball sandwich and a hamburger, this recipe for an Italian Meatball Slider was the hit of the 2012 NYC Food and Wine Show. It's a classic that will never go out of style.
The story behind an Italian Meatball Slider
My then client, Colavita USA, challenged me when they said they needed something to serve at the 2012 NYC Food and Wine Show. Because it's a show, the food has to be portable, easy to eat, and being a foodie show, it has to be delish.
Thinking of a classic meatball sandwich, which is neither easy to eat or very portable, I came up with this mini version, an Italian Meatball slider. Its small size makes it easy to eat, one or two bites and you are done, and the flavors are fantastic. Very reminiscent of a classic meatball sandwich.
One of the first things I did was put the cheese inside the burger. This way there was less to slip and slide out of the bun. A little surprise in your first bite.
Since cooking and serving at a show like this always presents its own set of challenges, I also thought of allowing them to cook the burger first, in a kitchen, then use the marinara to reheat them and coat them in the sauce. It worked perfectly!
You could use a jarred marinara sauce, or homemade. Making your own is always best IMHO and so easy to make a large batch and keep some in the freezer.
To finish these sliders, I topped them with some peppery arugula and a dollop of Spinach Artichoke Pesto. It's a great combination.
I was told that these Italian Meatball Sliders, along with my recipe for Polenta Fries with Roasted Red Pepper Ketchup. were the hit of the show.
Easy, fun and tasty!
Italian Meatball Slider
- 1 pound 20% lean ground beef
- ½ pound mild Italian sausage removed from casings if necessary
- ½ cup or as needed, Italian style bread crumbs (or you could use panko along with some Italian seasonings and parmesan cheese)
- ½ cup finely chopped onions
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
- Small fresh mozzarella balls also known as Ciliegine, cut in half
- Extra virgin olive oil as needed
- Slider buns or potato dinner rolls (I used dinner rolls as I couldn't find slider buns, or you could use a biscuit cutter and make your own out of hamburger buns, saving whatever is left to make breadcrumbs)
- 1 28 ounce jar marinara sauce (or homemade)
- 1 recipe Spinach/Artichoke Pesto
- Fresh spinach arugula or basil leaves
- Make the sliders:Mix the beef, sausage, bread crumbs, onion, parsley, garlic, egg, pepper, and salt together in a large bowl. Make a meatball with about 2 ½ ounces of meat. Place a half mozzarella ball in the middle and close the meat around it. Flatten slightly with your hand to resemble more of a fat hamburger than a round meatball.
- Broil until cooked, turning once. About 3 minutes per side.
- Place the meatballs into the marinara sauce that has been heated in a large skillet. Turn to coat. Allow to simmer in the sauce for a few minutes.
- Lightly coat the cut side of the bun with olive oil. Heat a cookie sheet in a 375º F oven, place cut side down on the baking sheet and bake until the cut side is just beginning to brown, but the bun is still soft; about 5 minutes.
- Place the meatball onto the bun, add a little marinara over the top. Spread the top of the bun with some of the pesto, top the meatball with a spinach leaf, some arugula or a basil leaf, and top with the bun. Serve immediately.