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Meatball Sliders with Tomato Sauce

- Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham
Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

This fun dish is two recipes in one: delicious, easy meatballs and a slow-simmered tangy tomato sauce. If you have any extra sauce, toss it with your favorite green vegetable, spoon it over a bowl of creamy grits, or pair it with pork chops or other meats.

Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Total time: 9 hours 35 minutes
Yields: Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 large fresh basil sprigs

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes, crushed

5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 pound ground chuck

1 pound ground pork

1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

24 slider buns or dinner rolls, split and lightly toasted

12 (1-oz.) provolone cheese slices, halved

Garnish: fresh basil leaves

How to Make It

Stir together first 6 ingredients in a 7-qt. slow cooker; stir in 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours.

Meanwhile, place ground chuck and ground pork in a large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients and remaining 1 Tbsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper; mix gently just until blended. Gently shape mixture into 24 meatballs. (Do not pack.) Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet; cover well, and chill until ready to use.

Let meatballs stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Carefully submerge meatballs in tomato mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour or until meatballs are done, stirring after 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler with oven rack 7 inches from heat. Arrange bottom halves of 12 buns in a single layer on each of 2 baking sheets. Place 1 meatball on each bun; top with sauce and 1 halved provolone cheese slice. Repeat with remaining buns, meatballs, and cheese.

Broil sliders, 1 baking sheet at a time, 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with top halves of buns.

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