Serena Wolf's Herb Meatball Sliders with Calabrian Chili Marinara
For the meatballs:
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup milk (I recommend 2%, but use what you have on hand. Water is also fine.)
1 pound 85% lean ground beef
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
12 ciliegine (cherry size) fresh mozzarella balls (or twelve ¾-inch cubes of fresh mozzarella)
1 jar Rao’s Homemade Limited Edition Reserve Calabrian Chili Marinara
12 slider buns (I like potato rolls, but Hawaiian rolls or brioche would be delicious as well.)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or melted butter)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
In a mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk. Set aside to soak while you prep the cheese, herbs, and garlic.
Add the beef, Parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic and egg to the bowl with the soaked bread crumbs. Using your hands, mix gently just until all of the ingredients are combined.
With lightly oiled hands, gently roll the meat mixture into 12 balls (roughly 2 inches in diameter). Push a small mozzarella ball into the center of each meatball with your fingers, and then carefully reform the meat around the cheese. You want to make sure that the cheese is sealed (and not visible) inside each meatball. Place each stuffed meatball about an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
Pour the Rao’s Homemade Calabrian Chili Marinara sauce into a medium sauté pan or Dutch oven. Bring to a gentle simmer and add the cooked meatballs. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Preheat the broiler to high.
"Slice the slider buns in half and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Add a meatball and some sauce to the bottom half of each bun, then close with the top half of the bun. Brush the top of the buns with the olive oil mixture. Grate some Parmesan cheese on top of the buns as well if you’d like. Broil the sliders for about a minute (keep a close eye on them!) or until the tops of the buns are golden lightly browned. Serve immediately.
NOTE: If you’d like to make your sliders in advance, prep the meatballs through step 5 up to two days in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, assemble the sliders with cold meatballs and sauce. Cover the baking sheet with foil and bake at 350 for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more. You can also rewarm the meatballs in a covered pan with the sauce over low heat until warmed through and then assemble and broil as instructed."