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  • 1 1/4 pounds 80% lean ground beef
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage with fennel
  • 3 slices white bread, crumbled in food processor
  • Whole milk, to moisten bread
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese, plus some to pass at table
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, 2 pasted or grated and 2 sliced
  • A fat drizzle of olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 small onion, grated, divided
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, about 1/3 palmful
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram leaves, lightly crushed, about 1/3 palmful
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef or veal stock
  • 2 cups passata or Italian tomato purée/sauce
  • 2 cups (1 14-ounce can) crushed or diced tomatoes or hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • A few leaves of basil, torn
  • Dinner roll-size ciabatta bread (to make sliders)
  • Shredded provolone and or mozzarella
  • Giardinera, drained and chopped into relish


Preheat oven to 425°F.
Place beef and sausage in a bowl. Squeeze excess milk from bread and add to meat, along with salt, pepper, egg, cheese, parsley, grated garlic, a drizzle of good olive oil and about 3 tablespoons grated onion. Mix with your hands to combine. Roll large, walnut-sized meatballs and arrange on parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Roast to lightly browned and just cooked through, about 18-20 minutes. 

While the meatballs cook, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep skillet or medium pot over to medium-high heat. Add sliced garlic and grate in the rest of the onion. Season with salt and pepper, and add red pepper flakes and oregano. Stir 2-3 minutes, add tomato paste and stir a minute more. Add wine and reduce by half; add stock and passata or sauce and crushed, diced or hand-crushed tomatoes, reduce heat to low to simmer.

Slide cooked meatballs into sauce and keep warm over low heat or in slow cooker.  Serve with bread and toppings for meatball sliders.