I originally made these for a tailgating party, but you can make these anytime. I call these the perfect manfood. Messy, flavorful and not your typical sloppy joe.
When I think of a tailgating party, I think of food that is hearty, mobile, easy to eat with one hand and a great accompaniment to beer. I knew immediately I wanted to transform an all American classic by making over the Sloppy Joe into Italian Bolognese sliders.
At first, I was a little hesitant, wondering if bolognese sliders would count as a legitimate tailgating food. I’m not a sports fan and I’ve never been tailgating so I did a little tailgating recipe googling, and I. discovered I’m missing out. Tailgating is a lot more than wings and beer at the back of a car. Tailgaters take their food seriously and may prepare for days in advance. Some tailgaters just tailgate and don’t even go into the stadium.
They might host a tailgate party for up to 50 friends, many of whom also tailgate and it’s one big eating serious food party. Did I mention that the food is accompanied by large amounts of alcohol? And all the while, I was envisioning burgers on the back of pick up trucks. And food and drink may not be the only pleasure.
This is not the first bolognese I’ve written about. I featured Marcella Hazan’s bolognese with my fresh pasta recipe. It was also delicious, perhaps a bit sweeter, as the recipe had more carrots and a lot more tomatoes. This recipe is different in that it has sausage (which I increased) and pancetta, two flavor builders I think are just right for this event.
The results were beyond my expectations. I missed last month’s “cooking with wine” challenge as my blog was in maintenance mode, and this covers that too, because bolognese is made with wine, just one of the many ingredients that builds an incredible hearty and complex flavor to ground meat.
The one thing an original Sloppy Joe and my bolognese sliders have in common is finely ground meat, mostly beef with some tomato. The traditional Sloppy Joe meat is sweetened with brown sugar, not my favorite ingredient in savory food. On the other hand, bolognese is much richer, as flavors are built layer by layer with a battuto of celery, onion and carrot, wine, pancetta, and tomato puree and finished off with milk, which adds to its richness.
The test of a good slider is the tease factor. If after eating one, you have to have another and then another, you’ve got a good slider. These passed the tease test, so you might want to make a double batch if you are serving a large crowd.
Tell me, what is your favorite tailgating food or drink that meets the tease test?
- 1 14-ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes in juice (or half large 28 ounce can)
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 celery rib, roughly cut
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (3 for sauce, 1 for toasting rolls)
- 2 links sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
- 2 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
- 1½ pounds ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- ¾ cup whole milk
- freshly grated nutmeg
- small water rolls
- Puree tomatoes until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat beef broth with tomato paste. Set aside.
- Make battuto. Chop together the celery, onion and carrots.
- Melt butter in large pot until frothy. Add vegetables, sausage and pancetta. Cook on low heat, until veggies are softened, not browned, about 25 minutes.
- Add beef, pork, and break up with wooden spoon. Cook 10 minutes. Do not brown.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Add wine, bring to boil until it is mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Add tomato puree and beef broth mixture and bay leaf.
- Cook for 2½ hours on simmering heat until liquid is evaporated.
- Add milk and cook for 30 more minutes.
- Add pinch of nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.
- Brush rolls with butter. Grill until toasted golden brown.
- Spoon bolognese sauce on rolls.