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Meatball sliders: Perfect for parties

| Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Yvonne Duivenvoorden
Meatball Sliders.

There's nothing more traditional than serving a big pot of chili when a bunch of friends come over to watch a big game like the Super Bowl. Sometimes, though, I like to try something different. Last year, I surprised my husband and friends with meatball sliders that were a big hit. I served a green salad with artichoke hearts and tiny plum tomatoes dressed with a lemon-mustard vinaigrette alongside. All the guests needed were a fork and napkin. That's my kind of casual entertaining.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking, and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host.

Meatball Sliders

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium-size leeks, light green and white part only, finely chopped

2 medium-size carrots, peeled and shredded or 1 cup shredded carrots

4 medium-size cloves garlic, minced

3 large eggs

14 cup Dijon mustard

1 cup chili sauce

12 cup finely chopped parsley

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 cup fine, dried bread crumbs, Panko works well

12 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon seasoning salt

1 pound lean ground veal

1 12 pounds lean (15 percent) ground beef

1 12 pounds ground pork

2 jars (26-ounce) premier marinara sauce

14 cup fresh basil, finely chopped, (use 2 teaspoons dried basil if fresh is unavailable)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

60 mini-buns or slider rolls

In a medium-size skillet over medium heat, heat the oil, add the leeks, and saute them for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they're soft and translucent. Saute the carrots for a minute and then add the garlic and saute for another minute. Cool and reserve.

Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients except the meat. Blend well, using a large spoon or your hands to mix all the ingredients. Add the meat and mix to blend all ingredients equally.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a few baking sheets with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. With your hands, gently roll the mixture into meatballs about 1 12 inches in diameter. Place them on the baking sheets and bake the meatballs for about 35 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat the marinara sauce in a large Dutch oven, big enough for the meatballs to fit into. Combine the sauce with the herbs and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add the meatballs and cook in the sauce for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is coating the meatballs.

Meanwhile, cut the rolls part of the way through. If desired, spread the buns on a baking sheet and heat in a 350 degree oven until heated though. Place one meatball inside each bun. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

Makes about 60 (2-inch) meatballs; serves 15-20.

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