Turkey Meatball Sliders

Dsc01174 Today's posting is going to be short and sweet.  Why?  Because I am trying to get myself out the door for our drive down to Phoenix for The SuperBowl!!!!  Yes, as far as my husband, Eric, is concerned, I am wife of the year, because I entered a recipe contest and won the grand prize, a trip and tickets to the Big Game.  Suddenly my little "hobby" of entering recipe contests made him sit up and take notice.  It doesn't hurt that he has been a life long Patriots fan either.

Anyhow, today's recipe for Turkey Meatball Sliders would be another great dish to serve to your Super Bowl guests.  Each one is like a miniature meatball sub and easier to handle then the full-sized sandwiches (you'll still need lots of napkins though.)  Preparing the meatballs with ground turkey makes them healthier, and the smaller size allows room to feast on other treats. Enjoy the Super Bowl!  Here are some hints for making marvelous meatball sliders:

  • The meatballs can be fully cooked in the sauce one day in advance.  Cover them in a container and chill.  Reheat over medium-low in a saucepan.
  • If you want a "meatier" meatball, instead of using ground turkey you can use a mixture of ground veal, pork, and/or beef.   Do not use extra lean ground turkey for the meatballs, as the low fat content will make the meatballs too dry.
  • Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese breadcrumbs that are often used to make a crunchy Dsc01159_2  coating for fried foods.  Panko is made from bread without a crust, and as a result, it has a crispier texture than other types of breading.  Panko should be readily available in the Asian foods section of your grocery store, but feel free to substitute regular breadcrumbs.
  • Instead of making the sliders, you can roll the meatballs a little bit smaller and make the more traditional meatball subs, with 3 meatballs.  Instead of the Pecorino Romano cheese, you can top the three meatballs with slices of provolone cheese and then stick the sandwich under the broiler for a few minutes until bubbly.  The meatballs and sauce would also be great served on top of pasta.

Turkey Meatball Sliders

Makes 12-15 meatballs


1 ½ pounds ground turkey (light and dark meat)

½ cup Panko breadcrumbs

½ cup water

8 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsleyDsc01163

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

6 large cloves garlic, chopped

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 (28-ounce_ can whole peeled tomatoes

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

Spinach or arugula leaves (optional)

12-15 small rolls, split

Dsc01165 Combine the turkey, panko, water, 6 tablespoons cheese, egg, egg yolk, ¼ cup chopped parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and mix well.  Form the mixture into 12-15 two-inch meatballs and place on a foil-line pan.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, fry the meatballs until they are brown all over and then transfer them to a plate.  Pour off any drippings from the skillet.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the olive oil to the skillet.  Add the onion, garlic, basil, and fennel seeds.  Saute until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add both cans of the tomatoes with their juices, and bring to a boil, stirring well.  Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet with the lid, leaving aDsc01178  small gap for steam to escape.  Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

Puree the sauce in a food processor, blender, or with an immersion blender until fairly smooth.  Return the sauce to the skillet and then add the meatballs.  Cover with the lid, again leaving a small gap, and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 30 minutes longer.

If using the arugula or spinach, line each of the bottom halves of the rolls with a few leaves.  Top with one meatball.  Pour some of the sauce over each meatball and then sprinkle with some of the remaining cheese and parsley.  Cover with the top halves of the rolls and serve.

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