Gluten Free Party Meatballs and Two Sauces (!)

As it happens, you don’t need panko or even plain bread crumbs to make very, very good meatballs.

Ground oatmeal works a treat!

“But where” you ask “am I to find ground oatmeal?”

Y’know that big round box of oatmeal  you probably have in the pantry?

Yeh. There.

Pop some in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the metal blade and there you go; ground oatmeal.

I made these meatballs small (about one inch) to use for parties during the holidays, and this recipe gave me about 70 meatballs, which I cooled and stashed in quart sized freezer bags of about 20 meatballs each.

For one gathering, I made a pineapple and chipotle sauce that was really very nice, and went with the chipotle in the meatballs.

For another gathering, however, I went simple and, I think, the resulting sauce was much better; a combination of my Steak and Chop Sauce and my Pepper Jelly.

Heaven in a slow cooker.

As always, if you don’t have my sauces or jellies, go ahead and play with stuff from the market; you’ve still got some pretty awesome (and gluten free!) meatballs to play around with.

INGREDIENTS
Meatballs:
•1 lb ground beef
•1 lb ground pork
•1 cup ground oats
•1/2 cup milk
•1/2 cup diced onion
•2 eggs
•1 chipotle in adobo, chopped
•1 tbsp adobo sauce
•2 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce
•1 tsp salt

Pineapple Adobo Sauce:
•1 cup ketchup
•1 cup Barbecue Sauce or Steak and Chop Sauce
•8 oz crushed pineapple in juice
•3 or 4 tbsp smoked brown sugar
•2 tbsp red wine vinegar
•1 tbsp adobo sauce (from the chipotles)
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce
•1 tbsp Dijon mustard
•1 tbsp white sugar

Pepper Jelly Sauce:
•1 cup Steak and Chop or Barbecue Sauce
•1 cup Pepper Jelly

First, the meatballs.

Heat your oven to 350º and line a couple of rimmed baking sheets with foil.

Stir the milk into the ground oats in a large mixing bowl, then set aside to rest for five or ten minutes.

Add the eggs, onion, chipotle, adobo sauce, Sherry Peppers Sauce, and salt and mix.

Note: no Sherry Peppers Sauce? No problem! Try adding a bit of decent sherry and some of your favorite hot sauce, to taste.

Add the ground beef and ground pork and mix until nicely blended.

Shape the meat mixture into balls (a small cookie scoop works a treat here) and arrange on the baking sheets.

Place the meatballs on two racks in the oven, bake for 15 minutes, then flip the trays on the racks and bake for another 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

Remove from the oven, set aside to cool, then transfer the meatballs into freezer bags and stash in the freezer until needed. I used three quart sized bags and divided them more or less evenly (23 +/- per bag).

Well… sorta. I had to taste a couple to make sure they were fit to be served to friends.

Yeh. They’ll do.

OK! So, the sauces!

Both were very good – though I think I liked the Pepper Jelly one a bit better – partially because it was so simple to make; simply dump the jar of jelly and the jar of Steak and Chop Sauce in the slow cooker, stir, then add the (thawed is better) meatballs and cook for a couple of hours until heated through and your guests arrive.

Note: the Pepper Jelly Sauce was enough for one bag (about 20) of meatballs. If you’re planning for a larger gathering, simply double the amount of jelly and Steak and Chop or Barbecue sauce.

The Pineapple Adobo sauce takes a touch more effort, simply because it needs to be cooked and reduced before you can use it.

The good thing is that you can do this a day or two ahead of time, and stash the cooled, thickened sauce in a container in the fridge until needed; then it’s back to stirring everything together in a slow cooker and heating through.

Stir all of the sauce ingredients together a large pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sauce has reduced and thickened enough that dragging the spoon through the sauce will leave a bit of a channel (see the image at the right) – mebbe 45 minutes or so.

As noted above, allow the sauce to cool, transfer to a container, and stash in the fridge until needed – I ended up with a bit more than two cups of sauce, perfect for a bag or two of meatballs!

When ready to serve, stir the (thawed is best) meatballs into the sauce in a slow cooker, then cover and cook until heated through and bubbly. Mebbe two hours or so.

Note: starting with frozen meatballs? Add ’em to your sauce of choice in a slow cooker and plan on cooking on HIGH for four hours.

Still not too, too much fuss and muss on the day of a party; and, if you happen to have multiple slow cookers, you could even set up a meatball tasting throwdown!

It really is all good.

And gluten free!

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