For some wild unknown reason, I have a soft spot for sliders. I think everyone does, and if you don’t, well then we have some real issues we need to discuss before we can be friends. I’m always trying to come up with new and exciting ways to make mini-burgers. This might be because my life motto is that if it has “small, mini or bite-sized” in the name, it only means you can eat a lot more without feeling guilty. I’m certain that’s the only reason they were invented. Tiny burgers don’t have the same calories as their normal-sized counterparts, so eat as many as you want. You can quote me on that. Let’s write it on t-shirts and sell them. Get the news out there as much as possible.
I may or may not be a seasoned slider professional by now. Perhaps you’ll remember some of my very favorite posts on here; BLT Biscuit sliders are everything we want brunch sliders to be. Let’s not forget about that time I went all Southern comfort and whipped up these Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders, I’ll never forget that day and you shouldn’t either. I’ll make sure you don’t. But perhaps you’ve once had the same fascination with pot roast as me and made these Pot Roast Sliders. They combine two of my favorite dishes into one flavorful package between two buns.
These Cabernet Sauvignon Meatball Sliders, made with Barefoot Wine’s Cabernet Sauvignon, are a great party appetizer or snack. Most people see sliders as being a starter to a great meal, but I see them as being the perfect meal. I make them for dinner all of the time. Maybe you’re a meatball aficionado and you’ll fall in love with the tasty red wine marinara and tender meatballs that are sandwiched between a mini garlicy ciabatta roll. You’ll definitely fall in love with the fact that there’s cheese and wine involved, I know I did.
We’re going to begin by making the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the ground sirloin and ground pork.
**Note: I like using both ground beef and pork because of the flavor and fat difference between the two. The pork has more fat than the beef, since I use a lean ground sirloin. That fat helps keep the meatballs moist. If you’re not into the idea of mixing the two, or if you can’t find ground pork, then you can just use all beef!**
Also throw in the eggs, bread crumbs, grated parmesan, salt, pepper, chili flakes, parsley, grated garlic and milk.
**Tip: Adding whole milk to your meatball mixture will also help them become moist.**
Mix with your hands, or a spoon, until everything is well incorporated. Try not to over-mix it as that will make your meatballs tough.
Shape the meatballs into even rounds the size of golfballs, placing them on a plate or platter as you shape them. A good tip is to use a medium-sized ice cream scoop to help you shape them!
**Tip: Having the meatballs all the same size, (or relatively the same size) allows them all to cook evenly and at the same time. If they were different sizes, you’d end up with the smaller ones being overcooked or the larger ones being undercooked. We can’t have that.**
Heat a large deep skillet (or pot) over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat through. Once hot, sear the meatballs in batches, until brown and crispy on all sides.
**Note: We’re not looking to cook them all the way, rather just get a nice color and crust on them. They’ll finish cooking later on in the sauce.**
Cook the meatballs in batches so that they brown evenly without crowding the pan. Once they are browned, transfer to a plate or platter and continue searing the remaining meatballs.
Once all of the meatballs are browned, set them off to the side. Remove all but a tablespoon of grease from the skillet or pot and return to the stove. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Season with a bit of salt, pepper, and chili flakes.
Add in the red wine, allowing it to cook down slightly. I used Barefoot Wine’s Cabernet Sauvignon and it worked really well in this dish. I highly recommend using that wine.
Once the wine has reduced slightly, throw in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Season with a bit more salt and pepper and a tad bit of granulated sugar.
**Tip: The sugar helps reduce that acidity from the tomatoes!**
Allow the marinara to come up to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add in the meatballs, making sure to nestle them all into the sauce.
Cover the skillet or pot and reduce the heat to as low as it will go. Allow the meatballs to finish cooking throw, simmering for about 30 minutes. Stir once or twice as it cooks to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
In the meantime, prepare the rolls for the sliders. I’m using mini ciabatta rolls I found at the grocery store, but feel free to use any small (slider-sized) roll you find. We’re going to jazz up these store bought rolls by turning them into garlic slider rolls. You know, cause garlic bread and spaghetti and meatballs go hand in hand.
In a small skillet melt the butter and add in the chopped garlic and parsley. Allow to cook for a few minutes to develop that garlic flavor. Place the rolls on a baking sheet and brush them liberally with the garlic and parsley butter.
Toast in the oven for 5 minutes or so until golden brown and crusty. The rolls are already cooked, we’re just looking to get them toasted and allow the garlic parsley butter to stick to them.
Once the meatballs are cooked, the last thing to do is add in a bit of fresh basil. Fresh herbs adds the best finishing touch to the cabernet marinara, and the added bit of color makes it look nice.
The last thing to do is assemble our meatball sliders. Split open the rolls and lay down a meatball on the bottom half of each roll. Spoon a bit of the sauce over each meatball and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. The more the merrier. Place the top on each and skewer with a toothpick to hold in place.
And that’s it, your delicious meatball sliders are now complete. You are ready to dig in. Serve them with a glass of wine and enjoy the perfect little snack or appetizer.
These might look like snacks because of their bite-sized appearance, but they’re actually great for dinner as well. Serve them alongside a tossed green salad (or some oven baked french fries, if you’re feeling adventurous). You can make a big batch of meatballs and cabernet sauce and keep these on hand for lunch, as well. They get better the next day.
A great tip from me to you, at no extra cost, is to have the sliders one night and then toss the leftovers with some cooked spaghetti and have the perfect pasta dinner the following night. That way it doesn’t feel like you’re having leftovers at all.
If you’re not a fan of wine and think that you won’t like the flavor of it in food itself, I do have to state that it doesn’t taste alcoholic at all. Most people have this common fear of cooking with wine because they think it’ll be too boozy or something. That isn’t the case, believe me. One of my sisters doesn’t drink alcohol at all, she doesn’t like the taste, so she’ll always suspicious whenever I tell her something I’ve made has wine in it, but she ends up loving it! So if she likes it, you’ll like it too. Give it a shot, I promise the flavor is out of this world!
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup plain breadcrumbs
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 2 garlic cloves grated
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ¾ cup Barefoot Wine Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- mini ciabatta rolls (or any other small store bought roll)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- In a large bowl, combine the ground sirloin, ground pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper, chili flakes, garlic, parsley, and while milk. Mix until well combined. Portion out the mixture into 15 (or so) meatballs that are all the same size. Place them on a plate or platter as you shape them.
- Heat a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat through. Once hot, sear the meatballs in batches, sautéing until brown and crispy on all sides. They’ll finish cooking later on in the sauce. Transfer the browned meatballs to a platter or plate, and continue searing the rest.
- For the sauce: Discard all but 1 tablespoon of grease from the skillet or pot and add in the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and chili flakes. Stir in the wine and allow to cook down slightly, by half. Add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and the remaining salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes. Lower the heat and add back in the seared meatballs. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
- Right before serving, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the rolls on a baking sheet. In a small sauce pot melt the butter, and add in the garlic and parsley. Cook for about 5 minutes on low to develop the garlic flavor. Brush the garlic parsley butter on the rolls and bake for 5 minutes to toast.
- Stir in the chopped basil into the meatballs and remove from the heat. To assemble, split the rolls in half and place one meatball with on the bottom part of each roll. Spoon over some of the cabernet marinara and sprinkle with cheese. Skewer the top bun with tooth pick and serve!
- yield: about 15 sliders