While I’m talking about New Orleans, I suppose I should mention what was served at my Saintsbowl party on February 7, 2010, the day the SAINTS won the Superbowl!! Yeah, I was excited. Anyway, my New Orleans-themed party was complete with jambalaya, king cake, and hurricanes for sippin’. I tried to keep my prep simple and my cooking to a minimum so I could fully enjoy the game, so one of the few “from scratch” items I made was meatball sliders:
These were quite easy to make, and more important, quite delicious.
I got this recipe from those so-in-love-it’s-gross-but-still-cute Neely’s on an episode of “Down Home with the Neely’s” featuring a number of Superbowl party meal ideas. Keeping in mind that I wanted to have minimal cooking to do on game day, I decided to make the sauce and mix/roll the meatballs the day before. The sauce was super simple (onion, tomato puree, diced tomatoes), and initially not all that good. But after simmering the meatballs in the sauce right before serving, the sauce develops a much better flavor.
For the meatballs, combine Italian pork sausage (casings removed) and ground pork (I ended up using 2 different types of pork sausage because…where do you find ground pork??) with red pepper flakes, garlic, Panko bread crumbs, Parmesan, eggs, and fresh parsley. I mixed all of this up by hand (joy) and then rolled ~2 inch meatballs, covered and refrigerated them until the next day.
When you’re ready to cook the meatballs, brown them on all sides in a little oil (doing this in batches works best), then add all the meatballs and the pre-made sauce back to that pan to simmer for 45 minutes. Slice open small rolls (I used yummy Hawaiian rolls) and sandwich a meatball, a little sauce sauce, a leaf of fresh basil, and shaved pecorino (I used shaved Parmesan–easier to find) between roll halves. I secured each slider with a toothpick and they were ready to serve! Very easy and very tasty, if a little spicy. Watch the red pepper flakes if you use “hot” Italian sausage!
Neely’s Meatball Sliders
Recipe courtesy The Neelys, foodnetwork.com
3/4 pound ground pork
3/4 pound Italian pork sausage, casings removed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 (20-ounce) can tomato puree
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Soft rolls, split horizontally
Fresh basil leaves
Combine the ground pork and pork sausage, red pepper flakes, 2 cloves of the chopped garlic, panko, grated cheese, eggs, parsley, kosher salt and black pepper, to taste, in large bowl. Form into 2-inch-meatballs and set aside on a platter.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides. Transfer to plate.
Meanwhile, start the sauce. Add the 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and the remaining garlic. Saute until the onion begins to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season the onions with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the tomato puree and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, stir in the meatballs and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
To serve, put a meat ball on the bottom of each roll and drizzle lightly with some sauce. Top with a basil leaf and some shaved pecorino. Cover with the roll tops and transfer to a platter. Serve warm.