For my Winter Glam Cocktail Party, I knew there needed to be a hearty appetizer on the menu, something substantial and filling but still easy to fit on a small plate. I settled on meatball sliders, but wanted a more elegant option than the traditional tomato sauce-based meatballs. So, inspired by a burger at a favorite local restaurant and Faith's spiced lamb meatballs, my husband and I came up with this truly delicious little slider topped with a garlicky mix of herbs and crunchy fried shallots.
There's a restaurant called Tres Gatos in my neighborhood, and their Lamb Bocadillo burger — which consists of a lamb patty, chimichurri, and shallots on a potato roll — is my favorite item on the menu. For our sliders, instead of patties we decided to riff off of Faith's spiced lamb meatballs. We followed her instructions exactly, except we removed the garam masala and cut down on the ginger, which we thought would better mesh with the chimichurri herbs.
A kind waitress at the restaurant revealed the 10 ingredients in the chimichurri (although not the ratios!), so we experimented until we got a fair approximation of the original, which is actually much thicker and more like a pesto than a traditional chimichurri.
I had originally intended to make the rolls myself, but eventually decided to just buy sourdough dinner rolls from a local bakery. They were great, but if you'd like to make your own rolls, the Parker House rolls from this recipe would be an excellent choice here.
While the meatballs look quite large and perhaps difficult to eat, let me assure you that they're very tender and squish down perfectly, blending with the shallots and the chimichurri for an incredibly tasty bite — a definite crowd-pleaser!
Lamb Meatball Sliders with Chimichurri and Crispy Shallots
For the meatballs: 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 small onions, finely grated
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
5 garlic cloves, crushed
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chile powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons ground almonds
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
For the shallots:
4 shallots, thinly sliced
Canola or vegetable oil
For the chimichurri: 1 small jalapeño pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, sliced
1 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley
1 cup lightly packed cilantro
1 cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon oregano
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon water
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix together the beef and lamb until they are well combined. Using your hands or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, stir in the onion, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, chile powder, cilantro, almonds, eggs, and flour.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Divide the meat mixture into 1/4-cup portions and roll into evenly-shaped meatballs. Space evenly on a half-sheet pan and roast the meatballs for 20 minutes or until just barely pink in the middle.
Meanwhile, pour canola or vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches into a 3-quart pot. Heat on medium until the temperature reaches 325°. Place 2 cups worth of shallots into the pot. Stir periodically for 12-15 minutes. When the shallots start to brown, stir more frequently. When they turn golden brown, remove with a straining spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. After they drain, transfer to a second paper towel and season with salt to taste. Repeat with the remaining shallots. (It may take a few batches.)
For the chimichurri, add jalepeño, garlic, anchovies, shallots, parsley, cilantro, chives, and oregano to a food processor. Pour in half the olive oil and the sherry vinegar, then pulse 6 to 7 times. Add the rest of the olive oil, and blend for 1 minute. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the sliders, brush buns with olive oil and toast at 450° for 3 to 5 minutes or till golden brown. Spread a spoonful of chimichurri on the bottom part of the bun, then add a meatball and a tablespoon of crispy shallots. Serve immediately.
Meatball mixture can be made up to 12 hours in advance and refrigerated, or kept frozen, uncooked, for 3 months. To freeze the cooked meatballs, place them on a large baking tray and freeze them for 2 hours or until solid. Then remove them and put them in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Reheat on a baking sheet in a 300°F oven until warmed through, turning the oven up to broil at the end for 5 minutes to re-crisp the edges.
The shallots can also be made up to a week in advance if kept in an airtight container.
The chimichurri can be made up to 5 days in advance. Keep tightly covered in the refrigerator.