I'm staying with my friend Rachel in the West Village in NYC and we decided to host a little party – fall being our inspiration. Over the summer when I had been in NY Rachel had taken me to an amazing restaurant in the neighborhood called, The Little Owl. We had the most incredible meal and so I was very excited when I came across last month's issue of Bon Appetit which not only featured the restaurant but shared their recipe for the meatball sliders that I'd enjoyed. These sliders were going to be the main attraction at our 'harvest celebration' party.
We started the day by visiting the farmer's market and picked up crunchy macoun and macintosh apples, sweet potatoes, zucchinis, and basil. We then found the most amazing gourds to decorate the table and a little festive pumpkin to sit on the window sill.
Our shopping expedition took us to the butcher, several grocery stores, and then on a quest to find the little buns for our mini sliders. We stopped by The Little Owl to find out where they got the perfect little buns and it turned out they made them themselves. So we continued on our way to find a bakery that might have something we could use (passing Harold from last season's Top Chef along the way!). We stopped in at the sister restaurant to The Little Owl called Market Table and met Mike who was the chef there and to our extreme delight he offered us some of the dough that he'd already prepared for the buns. We were so excited to be able to feature the 'real deal' along with our sliders.
The spread we made included the sliders, roasted vegetables, cheese plate with a fig cake, olives stuffed with almonds, and to finish – apples dunked in caramel sauce with a light sprinkling of sea salt.
Here is the recipe for the mini sliders as featured in the September issue of Bon Appetit:
Makes 18 little meatballs
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (Japanese style breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup water
8 Tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspooon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 14.5-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
Arugula leaves (optional)
18 small soft rolls, split horizontally (toasted lightly if desired)
1) Make the meatballs by mixing all of the meats, panko breadcrumbs, water, 6 tablespoons of cheese, egg, egg yolk, 1/4 cup parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands just until combined and form into 18 2 inch meatballs.
2) Heat vegetable oil over med-high heat in a large skillet. Working in batches fry the meatballs until brown all over. Transfer to a plate. Meanwhile pour off the excess oil from the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add the olive oil and then the onion, garlic, basil, and fennel seeds. Saute the onion until the onion begins to brown – approx. 5 minutes. Add all the tomatoes with juices and bring to a boil scaping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover with the lid slightly ajar and simmer stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.
3) Puree the sauce in a food processor until almost smooth and return to the skillet. Add the meatballs and cover the lid lightly and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through – about 30 minutes.
(Because I only had a really small food processor to work with I instead opted for already crushed tomatoes rather than the whole ones and then skipped the step of pureeing.)
4) Take a bun, slice it open horizontally and layer a few leaves of arugula on the bottom, top each with a meatball, drizzle meatballs with some sauce and sprinkle with remaining parsely and cheese. Cover with the top of the bun. (You can use a toothpick here to hold them together if necessary).