Meat Loaf Sliders with Tomato-Bacon Ketchup
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 pound raw bacon (roughly chopped)
- 3 onions (peeled and finely chopped, divided)
- 11 clove garlic (peeld and minced, divided)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 (12 oz) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3/4 pound ground beef
- 3/4 pound hot Italian sausage (casings removed)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper (as needed for seasoning)
- 8 soft slider sized buns (split)
- mayonnaise (as needed)
- fresh lettuce leaves (to taste)
- bread and butter pickles, sliced crosswise into discs (optional)
Make the ketchup: Place a large dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil and chopped bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon begins to become crisp; about 8 minutes. Add 2 of the chopped onions and 8 of the minced garlic cloves and reduce the heat to very low. Stir frequently until the onions caramelize and become the color of golden raisins; about 2 hours depending on water content of onions.
Add the brown sugar and cook 5 more minutes until dissolved, but not burned. Add both vinegars and cook, stirring frequently, ½ hour.
Add the tomatoes and basil and continue to cook, stirring and crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon frequently, until the mixture is thick and saucy; about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Set aside to cool.
Blend in small batches. The ketchup may be covered and and refrigerated up to 5 days. Makes about 2 cups.
Make the meatloaf sliders: Place the oven rack in the center position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, set aside.
Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat and sweat remaining onion and remaining 3 cloves garlic until translucent. Scrape the onion mixture into a large bowl and let them cool slightly. Place ground beef, Italian sausage, parsley, 1 egg, panko, ¼ cup prepared tomato-bacon ketchup, salt and pepper into the bowl with the onion mixture and loosely mix with your hands.
Shape meat into 8 slider-sized patties, about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4-inch thick. Use your thumb to make a small indentation in the center of each patty. This will ensure that the meat maintains its form as it plumps in cooking. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the patties with more tomato-bacon ketchup and bake about 20 minutes.
While the burgers are cooking place the buns cut sides down onto a large heated grill pan, skillet or griddle, rotating as needed, until lightly browned. Remove from heat spread a little mayonnaise onto the bun bottoms, followed by lettuce. Top with cooked burger and a few pickle slices (if using), then cover with top bun and serve warm.