Beef and Pork Meatball Burger Sliders

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I have a notion. Party food should be fun. It should spark conversation, interest, smiles. Not every dish, of course, is going to do this. Sometimes, a dip is just a dip. But those dishes that you take time to make from scratch should inject an energy into your gatherings that is nothing short of infectious. One of the best ways to do that is to take something traditional and make it your own.

Sliders are a party’s best friend. And when you love Italian food as much as I do, every opportunity to incorporate flavors from Italy are taken. This recipe for Beef and Pork Meatball Burger Sliders is a nod to my absolute love of burgers and the flair of Italian cuisine.

There are layers of flavor in each slider, from the marsala used in the onion slaw to the fresh herbs topping each burger, that unfold with every bite your guests take. And despite its complexity, everything can be done ahead to make the construction of these little “soldiers” stress-free (I ate a few leftover sliders the next day and they were AWESOME).

So next time you’re hosting a gathering, let this recipe take away the stress of cooking in-the-moment and add to the fun you deserve to be having with all of your guests!

Beef and Pork Meatball Burger Sliders

(recipe serving size – 10 sliders)

For the slider patties:

1/2 lb ground chuck beef (80/20)

1/2 lb ground pork

1 egg

1/4 cup crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup romano cheese

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp granulated garlic

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Mix with a fork to incorporate all ingredients. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out 10 sliders. Gently form patties roughly 2 inches in diameter and refrigerate until ready to cook.

For the onion marsala slaw, tomato, cheese and basil topping:

2-3 small vine ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices (10 slices in total)

1/2-3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4 inch slices (10 slices in total)

10 large basil leaves

1 small sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

3/4 cup marsala wine

3/4 cup crushed tomatoes

1 tb fresh chopped parsley

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tb butter

1 tb olive oil

Sauté the onions in the olive oil and butter over medium heat for 7-8 minutes. While the onions cook, slice your tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Place the slices on a plate. Wrap with plastic wrap and set aside.

After the onions have cooked for 7-8 minutes, add the garlic and parsley. Sauté for 2 minutes. Raise heat to medium/high. Add the marsala wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the excess liquid has cooked away and the sauce has thickened.

Partially cover the pan with a lid and keep warm over low heat.

For cooking the slider patties:

2 tb olive oil

Heat a cast iron skillet, heavy bottomed pan or a grill pan over medium to medium/high heat. Brush the sides of the burgers facing up and lightly coat pan you are using with olive oil. Gently place the burgers in the pan, olive oil side down, making sure you do not crowd them. Cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side. While the burgers cook, brush the side facing up with rest of the olive oil, or until each burger is coated evenly.

Turn the burgers over. Place a slice of cheese on each burger and tent with aluminum foil to help the cheese melt. Cook for 3-4 minutes and remove the burgers from the pan.

Bringing it all together:

10 dinner rolls (I use Martin’s Potato Rolls that come 12 in a pack, which are slightly smaller than their slider buns)

Line a large serving platter with the bottoms of each dinner roll. Lay a slice of tomato on each bottom. Gently place a burger patty on top of each tomato. Scoop a small amount of the onion slaw on top of the burger. Finish with 1 basil leaf and the top half of the bun. Serve while warm and enjoy!

Doing ahead:

Prior to your guests coming over, here are the things you can do ahead of time so that you can spend time with everyone you have gathered together.

  • Before your guests arrive, slice the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and keep cool in the refrigerator.
  • Make the onion marsala slaw as far as a day ahead and seal in a container. Reheat on the stove when you are ready to use it.
  • Because of the moisture added to the slider patty mixture, you can absolutely cook the burgers ahead of time. Store them tightly in a plastic storage bag or container. When you are ready to serve the burgers, place the patties in the same pan your onion slaw is in and reheat gently until the meat is heated through. Lay the fresh mozzarella on each of the burgers and cover the pan with a lid to help the cheese melt once your burgers have had time to warm.

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