Saturday, August 20, 2011

Paleo Sliders

You will eat more than three. I guarantee it.
The other night at the gym, we had a paleo potluck, which meant that I needed to come up with a tasty paleo dish that would taste good, travel easily, and lend itself to being eaten while standing around. The chicken poppers are a good choice, but I'd made those for the last potluck and I wanted to do something different. In what was basically a flash of inspiration, I came up with the idea for these paleo sliders. (Seriously, I was just standing there and the idea for these just popped, fully formed, into my head. I have no idea why.)

They ended up being a big hit. Even better, I'm confident that these would be awesome even at a party that wasn't specifically paleo. They taste like little hamburgers, and only crazy people don't like little hamburgers. If you're partying with crazy people, I can't really do anything about that.

Nutritionally, I say eat as many of these as you can stuff in your gaping maw. They're high in protein and low in carbohydrates, and if you bring a bunch to your next potluck, they may just help you stay out of that enormous cheese-and-cracker tray.

I guess you could make these without bacon, but if you do, it means the terrorists have won.


4 slices of bacon
1 - 1 1/12 lb ground beef
1/2 large onion
1 egg
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
approximately 1/4 head of green leaf lettuce
approximately 1 pint of grape tomatoes
approximately 1/3 jar of dill pickle slices


Large Pan
Food Processor (Recommended)
Sieve (Recommended)
Paper Towel or Coffee Filter (to drain the onion)
Large Bowl
Draining Rig
Skewers (Or Extra-Long Toothpicks)

Start by chopping the bacon into small pieces.

The colder your bacon is, the easier it will be to cut.

Place the bacon into a cold pan, and place the pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon pieces over medium heat, stirring frequently until the pieces are browned and crisp.

Starting the bacon in a cold pan means that as much bacon fat as possible will be in the pan
when you're done.That's important for cooking the meatballs.

Remove the bacon from the pan and allow it to drain. Leave as much of the bacon fat in the pan as possible. Take the pan off of the heat while assembling the meatballs.

If you forget to take the pan off of the heat, it will help keep your firefighter friends employed,
but it won't be good for your homeowner's insurance rates.

Mince the onion as finely as possible. I recommend putting the onion into a food processor and processing it until it looks like apple sauce. You could also use a fine cheese grater to grate the onion if you don't have a food processor.

Drain as much liquid from the onion as possible. I recommend placing a paper towel or coffee filter into a seive and letting the minced onion sit in the seive, suspended over a bowl.

If you don't get most of the liquid out of the onion, it will make your meatballs fall apart.

Once the onion is drained, place it into a large bowl along with the bacon, ground beef, egg, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to combine everything until the mixture is even.

It's a little messy, but clean hands are really the easiest way to mix this kind of thing together.

Using a small disher or a tablespoon, portion the meat mixture into small meatballs. Use your hands to make them round if necessary.

It's OK if they're not perfect spheres. They're going to flatten a little in the pan anyway.

Place the pan with the bacon grease in it over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs, a few at a time, in the bacon grease until they are browned on all sides. Rotate them about every two minutes. You will need to rotate them either once or twice, depending on how much grease is in the pan.

I ended up with a lot of bacon grease, so I only had to turn mine once.

Once each batch of meatballs finishes cooking, move them to a draining rig. Continue cooking batches of meatballs until they are all done.

Try to leave as much grease in the pan as possible, but the rig will help make sure that
your finished sliders aren't sitting in a plate of fat.

To assemble the skewers, you first need to rip the lettuce into small pieces. Each piece should just cover the top of a meatball. Once you have the lettuce ripped into enough pieces to cover the meatballs, assemble the skewers. For each skewer, stick the skewer through a tomato, then through a pickle slice, and then through a piece of lettuce. Then stick the skewer into a meatball.

The order of these is kind of important. Having it go "meatball, lettuce, pickle, tomato"
means that the meatball and the tomato help hold everything together.

I recommend having your serving dish handy so that you can place each slider on the dish as you finish it.

  • The amounts in this recipe will be enough for about two dozen sliders. That's enough for a very small potluck (maybe 6-8 people). I tripled the recipe when I made them. There is one tricky ingredient if you multiply this recipe. Do not double the egg if you double the recipe. Only use two eggs if you triple the recipe. Add another egg for every two pounds of meat after that.
  • The meatballs in this recipe are a great basic meatball. I wanted them to taste like hamburgers, so I didn't go crazy with the spices. You could use them in any meatball recipe and they would be pretty good. You could also substitute a fancier meatball in this recipe if you wanted to.
  • If you make these ahead of time, don't stick the skewers into the meatballs. Instead, assemble the skewers with the tomato, pickle, and lettuce and refrigerate everything. Then, right before you serve them, heat up the meatballs and stick the assembled skewers in.
  • Be careful what kind of pickles you use for these. Dill slices seem to be pretty good, but every bread-and-butter pickle I looked at was loaded with high fructose corn syrup.