Miniature Meatball Panini
My non-Italian mom made these for us every Christmas, so I think of them as Rose's sandwiches. She served them as appetizers and we used to eat them like peanuts. When I referred to them as Rose's Mini Meatballs Sandwiches on television, my Italian father phoned to say, rather indignantly, "Those are your grandmother's sandwiches." But, it was mom who made them a family staple for our generation. Bake the cut-off crusts separately for a delicious chef's treat. You can prepare, bake, cool, freeze and then store them in an airtight plastic bag. Just thaw and reheat at 325 degrees for 12 minutes.
- 1 loaf thin-sliced white bread, such as Pepperidge Farm
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground pork, or a combination of beef and pork
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a food processor or blender, process the ends of the loaf of bread to fine breadcrumbs, about 1/2 cup. Set the remaining bread aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, meat, egg, cheeses, parsley, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs. Mix with your hands to combine well.
- Roll the meat mixture into 1-inch balls and reserve on a baking sheet. Lay 2 slices of bread on work surface. Butter one side of each piece. Place 4 meatballs on the buttered surface of the slice of bread. Top with a second slice of bread, buttered side down, and press firmly to adhere. Use a serrated knife to cut the crusts from the bread. Bake the crusts separately for a “chef’s treat.” Repeat with the remaining meatballs and bread. This process can be done assembly-line style, lining up slices of buttered bread and assembling a number at a time. Prepare 2 baking sheets at a time if possible.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat, if necessary, until all sandwiches are cooked. Remove from the pan and cool. Serve slightly warm.