Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs

Ah yes, ’tis the season for gathering together and spearing small balls o’ meat with toothpicks while sipping sparkling cocktails.

Sounds like a plan to me!

Now, these meatballs are bit different; none of that grape jelly stuff – we are goin’ full-on holidaze with jellied cranberry sauce!

As an added bonus, you can make these guys gluten-free by using G-F panko crumbs – check your local market.

•1-1/2 lb meatloaf mix
•1/2 cup Panko crumbs*
•3 cloves garlic, minced
•1 egg
•1 tbsp chili sauce
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Italian seasoning
•1 tsp ground ginger
•1 tsp sea salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (optional)

•1/2 pint hot pepper jelly
•3/4 cup chili sauce
•14 oz jellied cranberry sauce
•2 tbsp brown sugar
•1 tbsp smoked brown sugar (or just use another tablespoon of regular brown sugar)
•2 tbsp lemon juice

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Just use two tablespoons of chili sauce.

Heat your oven to 350º.

Whisk the chili sauce, Sherry Peppers, Italian seasoning, ginger, sea salt, black and Aleppo peppers into the egg, then stir in the Panko crumbs until blended and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and the meatloaf mix and mix well. I tried using this ground meat mixer my sister had, but ended up just going with my (clean) bare hands.

A note on meatloaf mix: in my area (northeastern Illinois), meatloaf mix is usually ground beef and ground pork. In my sister’s neighborhood (Maryland), ground veal is added to the mix. Whichever blend you come across will work fine – you might could even consider adding some raw minced shrimp to the mix.

Line a rimmed baking pan with foil and measure out your meatballs – I used a two tablespoon scoop measure and ended up with 30 nicely sized meatballs.

Arrange the meatballs on the baking pan and pop into the hot oven for ten minutes.

Turn the meatballs over and return to the oven for another ten or 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and mebbe just a bit crispity in places.

Set the meatballs aside to cool.

Note: I made these meatballs and the sauce a day ahead so that all I would need to do on the big day was to pop ’em in a slow cooker on the sideboard and let folk graze at will.

To make the sauce, stir the ingredients together over low heat until the cranberry jelly and the brown sugar have melted and you have a nice, thick sauce – about 30 minutes in total.

If you plan on using it all right away, go ahead and pour the sauce over the meatballs in a large pot and simmer for one hour or so.

Or, go with the make a day ahead and then do the slow cooker thing.

Works a treat!

So, put that grape jelly back on the shelf and grab for the cranberries!

‘Tis the season!


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