New York City’s beloved Little Owl recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Joey Campanaro shares the recipe for the restaurant’s meatball sliders, one of NYC’s most enduring dishes, in our most recent episode of Plate Deconstruction. Campanaro cooks up a Sunday gravy that dresses the sliders, saying it smells like Sunday morning at his house.
Watch the warming video below.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 cups cold water
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1/4 ounce yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 bulbs whole roasted garlic
- 1 chopped Spanish onion
- 1/4 head chopped fresh garlic
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 1 bunch fresh parsley (reserve 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley)
- 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 3 cups vegetable oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper
For the buns
In an electric mixing bowl using the hook attachment, mix the warm water, yeast, olive oil and molasses. Add the flour and the salt. The dough will become a wet mixture but will remain a little sticky.
Remove the dough onto a floured clean surface and gently knead into a soft ball. Place the dough in a mixing bowl brushed with olive oil and cover. Store in a warm humid area for 30 minutes or until the dough rises to double its size.
Wrap 2 bulbs of whole garlic in aluminum foil and roast in a medium-heat oven until very soft. Squeeze the whole bulbs of garlic to release the soft interior. Slightly chop the roasted garlic until it resembles a puree.
Portion the dough into 1-inch round balls and knead in the roasted garlic while doing so. Place the prepared portioned raw dough balls on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper approximately 2 inches apart. Cover with plastic and allow the dough balls to rise again. After 20 minutes, spray the raw dough balls with cold water, sprinkle with a pinch of the freshly grated Pecorino, salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes in a 400-degree oven.
For the meatballs
Mix the ground meat together with the cheese (reserve a pinch for garnish), eggs, breadcrumbs and three quarters of the amount of chopped parsley, cold water, salt and pepper. Roll the balls to same shape as the buns.
In a large, shallow saucepot, heat the vegetable oil. Pan-fry the meatballs until thoroughly browned. Remove the meatballs and add to the same pan the chopped Spanish onion, chopped fresh garlic, basil, parsley and fennel seed. Cook together for 5-8 minutes until the vegetables brown slightly. Add the can of tomatoes, and using the can, fill halfway with water and add the water to the sauce. Cook the sauce for 30 minutes, pass through a food mill and continue cooking. Add the meatballs back to the sauce and cook the meatballs in the sauce for an additional 30 minutes.
Cut the baked garlic buns in half and toast the cut side. Top the meatballs with grated Pecorino and chopped parsley and reheat to melt the cheese. Assemble the sliders and use a skewer to keep them from sliding all over the place. You can also use some fresh arugula leaves under the sliders for a colorful garnish.