(Courtesy by AP) Joey Campanaro is a third generation Italian and these Italian-American meatballs are the same ones he remembers his grandmother braising in red sauce. Using the brown bits left in the pan after frying the meatballs adds flavor to the sauce. A few fresh arugula leaves give the sliders color and a garnish with a slight crunch.

(Courtesy by AP) Joey Campanaro is a third generation Italian and these Italian-American meatballs are the same ones he remembers his grandmother braising in red sauce. Using the brown bits left in the pan after frying the meatballs adds flavor to the sauce. A few fresh arugula leaves give the sliders color and a garnish with a slight crunch.

GRAVY MEATBALL SLIDERS

Start to finish: 2 hours
Servings: 12

INGREDIENT:
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground veal
1 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
3 large eggs
3 cups water, divided
1 cup panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 cups vegetable oil for cooking
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fennel seeds
Two 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
36 small buns

DIRECTION:
1. In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, veal, cheese, eggs, 1 cup of water, the breadcrumbs, three-quarters of the parsley, and the salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix well. Shape into 2-inch balls.
2. In a large saute pan over medium-high, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and sear on all sides until well browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meatballs to a plate. Cover with foil and set aside.
3. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the pan (do not discard any of the browned meat bits on the bottom of the pan). Return the pan to the heat and add the onion, garlic, basil, all but 1 tablespoon of the remaining parsley, and the fennel seeds. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the onion is slightly brown.
4. Add the tomatoes and remaining 2 cups of water. Cook the sauce for 30 minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Serve the meatballs on buns and top with grated cheese and the remaining parsley.

Nutrition information per three sliders (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 588 calories; 218 calories from fat; 24 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 128 mg cholesterol; 54 g carbohydrate; 34 g protein; 4 g fiber; 1,109 mg sodium.

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