Meatball Sliders

So, before I begin, I promised some pizza party photos! It was so much fun to have friends and family over for a night of drinks and homemade pizza. Kramer did a phenomenal job with the dough – it was the first time with this particular recipe, so we will certainly be putting it up on the site soon. Check out some of the pizzas he made! This one had sweet and spicy sausage and bell peppers, and this one had the works: chorizo, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms, and onions. A few of my favorite photos from the night include this one of Kramer and me, this one of my dad and me, and this one of my mom, my brother, and I (they are so much taller than my dad and me, but my dad loves his tall lady). I also love this one of Kramer and my brother. Aunt Beth and Bill were there, too, but they avoided the camera for most of the night, somehow. I’ll get you both one day! My brother Wyatt is still in town for his spring break and we’ve had a lot of fun so far (or at least I think so)! I adore having guests and I’m always trying to get people to come to New York so I can show them around. We’ve eaten at Galanga, we saw all of the live-action Oscar nominated shorts at IFC Center (they were all phenomenal), and Wyatt even did some stand-up at The Pit, where he did very well! Yesterday, I took a day off from work to spend time with him. We slept in a bit, then met Kramer for lunch at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, followed by a trip to the United Nations. It was really cool to see where the security council sits and where the general assembly meets – I did Model UN in high school, so it all came flooding back to me (or at least I like to think so). After the UN, we went over to the Apple store on 5th Avenue, and FAO Schwartz (to pick up some candy), followed by a quick walk around Central Park. I can’t wait for tonight, because we’re going to get oysters (and stay away from Manhattan and its St. Patrick’s Day madness).

Sliders are among some of the most perfect party foods to serve, don’t you think? They are so appetizing looking, and best of all, they’re tiny, so you can eat them in a few bites and go back for more, or try some of the other party food that you have on display. I wanted to serve something interesting and not too simple, but at the same time, something that everyone is familiar with and has fond memories of. I thought about doing burgers, but these were so much better, especially because I don’t have a grill. The meatballs were so tender and flavorful, and the brioche slider buns really set them apart. You can, of course, use any bun that you like, but there’s just something wonderful about brioche; it makes them taste professional and restaurant-like. I loved the combination of veal, beef, and pork in these. I usually only do one or two meats when I make meatballs, but since I was making them for a special occasion, I splurged on some ground veal. You can really taste the difference – the meatballs are richer and have much more depth. The sauce itself was bright and delicious, with a hint of my secret ingredient: fennel! I think I would also add some anchovy paste to it next time, but I didn’t want to freak out any of my guests! I’ll get everyone to start using anchovy paste eventually, but in the mean time, please do try these mouth-watering meatball sliders.

Meatball Sliders
Start with your breadcrumbs.

Meatball Sliders
Toast them for 5 minutes or so at 400 degrees F, until golden. Set aside to cool.

Meatball Sliders
Beat together your egg and egg yolk.

Meatball Sliders
Mince your parsley.

Meatball Sliders
And combine everything in a large mixing bowl.

Meatball Sliders
Roll into large balls – this looks like a lot because I doubled the recipe since I was having a party.

Meatball Sliders
Fry the meatballs in vegetable oil until well browned on all sides.

Meatball Sliders
Work in batches until you have cooked them all, then set them aside on another surface until ready to use. Drain all but a tablespoon or two of fat from the pan.

Meatball Sliders
Add another splash of olive oil, if necessary, then add in the shallots and cook until softened over medium heat, about 5 minutes.

Meatball Sliders
Add in the garlic, basil, and fennel, and cook for another minute or two.

Meatball Sliders
Add in the tomatoes and all of their juices. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meatball Sliders
Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover again, and cook for another 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

Meatball Sliders
When the meatballs are ready, toast your buns for a few minutes until golden.

Meatball Sliders
Serve on the buns with some of the sauce and a bit of provolone or mozzarella cheese.

Meatball Sliders
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 4 slices bread, cut into 1-centimeter cubes
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ cup beef stock
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 large shallots, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 32 ounces whole peeled tomatoes
  • 15-20 brioche slider buns or any other small bun
  • provolone or mozzarella cheese, for topping
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cut your bread into 1-centimeter sized cubes and place on a dry baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes or so, until golden and toasted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine your veal, beef, pork, stock, cheese, egg, egg yolk, parsley, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Using clean hands, mix it all together well. Add in the toasted bread and mix to combine. Roll into 15-20 large meatballs and set aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or pot (something that will be able to hold the sauce and the meatballs together) over medium-high heat and add in some of the meatballs (you will need to work in batches). Cook for 3-5 minutes on all sides until nicely browned. Transfer the cooked meatballs to another surface; you don't need to worry about keeping them warm because you will be adding them back to the pan soon enough. When you are finished cooking the meatballs, drain off all but a tablespoon or two of the fat and reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Add in a splash or two of olive oil (if you think the pan needs it), then add in the shallots and saute for 5 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic, basil, and fennel, and cook for another minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant. Add in the tomatoes, along with their juices, and stir to combine. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent burning.
  5. When the sauce is ready, puree it in batches with a food processor or an immersion blender. Return the sauce to the pan and add in the browned meatballs - if you need to squeeze them in, don't worry about it. I had some sitting on top of others because my pan was just a bit too small and it was fine. Cover again and simmer until the meatballs are completely cooked, about another 30 minutes.
  6. When the meatballs are ready, toast your buns and serve the meatballs on them with some nice provolone or mozzarella cheese.


20 Responses

  1. Sounds like you are having a great time being the host! I love excuses to do fun things around the city that I wouldn’t do on a normal basis. These sliders look fantastic!

    • Sydney says:

      @Lauren: Same here! Having tourists in town makes you feel like you have the right to go around and snap tons of photos and bother the regulars – I love it!

  2. Jen T says:

    These sound amazing! I never make meatballs from scratch (I have issues with ground meat, it kind of freaks me out and I never feel like I get it out from under my fingernails, which grosses me out), but I might consider it for these! And the pictures of your party are great, it looks like you all had a ton of fun. Your brother looks like a giant in a couple of those pictures, and the one of you and Kramer is super cute.

    • Sydney says:

      Jen T: Thank you! Maybe wear some rubber gloves when mixing the meat so you don’t have to worry about it? I’m glad you like the photos – my brother IS a giant!

  3. Dana says:

    These look like they have a fantastic ratio of meatball to bun! Meatballs always go quickly in our house, I’ll have to have these make an appearance soon!

  4. Tina from Pa says:

    Looks like a great party!! I’m so happy you have room to entertain! Love the looks of those sliders!I love meatballs, when I make sauce and meatballs I always make a ton of meatballs and there’s never enough. For some reason they disappear from the fridge in the middle of the night!Happy St Patrick’s Day!

    • Sydney says:

      @Tina: Thank you, so am I!

      @Michelle: It really is – it’s also dangerously addictive, especially those malted black and white milkshakes!

      @Peggy: Thank you so much!

      @Jane M: Thank you – I truly am.

  5. […] Meatball Sliders – If you’re looking for a good appetizer for all the basketball games this weekend, these little sliders look pretty darn perfect!  (@ Crepes of Wrath) […]

  6. Michelle says:

    Oh, I just went to Shake Shack last weekend. It’s such a fun little spot, especially now that it’s nicer out.

    Those sliders look melt-in-your-mouth good. Enjoy your weekend!

  7. Peggy says:

    You definitely make a good host! Those sliders look ah-mazing!

  8. Jane M says:

    I saw glimpses of your new kitchen in your apt. It looks very very nice indeedy – the pizzas looked awesome as well! Looks like you’re really enjoying Manhattan!

  9. Michelle says:

    I am so spoiled by my mom’s meatballs that I rarely ever even make my own, much less make the rolls too! Everything looks so good!

  10. Terri says:

    These look delicious… and such a great idea for a party food!

  11. Just when I think you can’t get more brilliant with food, you always think of something new! Love, love, love this recipe. My mouth is literally watering!

  12. Chloé says:

    These look AMAZING! I can’t wait to try them out. Being Greek/Italian I’m always on the look out for an amazing meatball recipe.

  13. […] bar, The Tradesman. On Sunday, Kramer went to 3rd Ward while I ran some errands. We had leftover meatball sliders for dinner and watched a couple of movies, to round out the weekend and to just […]

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