with all the snow outside, it is always nice to think of a time when it is warmer… when grilling is prefered over stewing, and meals are preferably eaten without shoes on.

my mother and sister share the same birthday. it is in the beginning of spring, when buds first start to appear on trees. growing up my father and i mediated the birthday drama, but with age (and practice) we have, as a family, fallen into a very nice and relaxed routine.  this year, my mother had the opportunity to choose how she would like to spend her birthday on a day separate from my sister. and how did she choose? by none other than a bobby-flay style throwdown: sliders

i chose to adapt joey campanaro’s little owl meatball sliders to be my-family-friendly.  his perfect little sloppy meatball jewels may be the only reason i accept the ingestion of baby cows. however, to accomidate my fathers picky eating, i decided to make these turkey-meatball sliders.

my mother chose a tuna slider topped with guacamole…for the win. but after all, it was her birthday.

recipe: (adapted from the Little Owl )

for the meatballs:
3 lbs. ground turkey (the true recipe calls for 1 lb. each of beef, pork and veal)
3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus 1/4 cup for garnish
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 cups cold water
3 large eggs
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Vegetable oil for frying meatballs (approximately 3 cups)
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh garlic, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 industrial-size No. 10 can (or 4 28-oz. cans) of whole peeled tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Bunch of arugula 

1. Mix the ground meat with the cheese, the panko, the cold water, the eggs, 3/4 of the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. 
2. Form the mixture into 36 golf-ball-size meatballs. In a large shallow sauce pot or cast-iron pan, heat the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, 
3. add the meatballs and cook until brown all over. With a slotted spoon, remove the meatballs and set aside on a plate. Discard the vegetable oil but leave the browned bits in the pan. In the same pan, heat the olive oil, then add the onion, garlic, basil, and fennel seed. Cook for 5–8 minutes until slightly brown. Add the tomatoes and half a No. 10 can of water. Cook the sauce for 30 minutes, pass sauce through a food mill, and return to pan. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
4. the recipe calls for garlic buns, but i just toasted some pull apart rolls from amy’s bread on the grill. on the bottom of each bun place one arugula leaf. top with a meatball, a little extra sauce, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
5. eat. and enjoy.