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Cocktail meatballs ? Do people still serve those things?

Just when you think it's safe... I have never had any desire to make these part of a menu. I do however remember gazing into crock pots
filled with dayglow orange or black plum colored lumps ~ this was around the time we moved to the suburbs in the 80's ~~ strange brew indeed! Now I have had two reouests to include them in our Christmas
Eve party. I am here to serve (family and old friends).
How about it, anyone ever had a good one? Is there actually an old popular recipe using nothing more than chili sauce and grape jelly
for the sauce?

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  1. Ah, memories of those stoned college days.

    Vienna sausages simmered in grape jelly, mustard, and chili sauce.

    Sometimes, if we were flush, we used big hot dogs.

    But, really, meatballs were far too complicated for our then-simple minds.

    My recollection, all these years later, is that this dish, especially the Vienna sausage variation, was sublime. I'm tempted to give this another try. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. You know, if you call them albondigas they miraculously become Spanish tapas and therefore chic!

      2 Replies
        1. I just made some cocktail sized meatballs from ground chicken to eat in lettuce wraps, but you may be able to adapt for an hor d'ouvre.

          1 lb ground chicken
          2 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste
          chopped scallion
          minced carrot
          minced shallot
          minced ginger
          1/2 tsp salt
          cayenne pepper
          mix and form small meatballs, brown on stove top, then add a simmer sauce of chicken broth, sesame oil, sugar and more ginger.

          In a pinch, use a sesame ginger marinade, watered down significantly, and let reduce to a thin sauce to glaze meatballs.

          Let me know what you think! DH loved them.

          1. Larwry's Prime Rib in Beveryly Hills has them as complimentary hors d'oeuvres in their waiting area with a marinara sauce.

            I found out they use the Costco meat balls which I've bought on many occaisions the same way or with a store bought teriyaki sauce. Naturally their good with spaghetti. Handy to keep in the freezer.

            1 Reply
            1. re: monku

              I loved those meatballs. Used to go to the Lawry's bar and make a whole dinner of them. I always assumed they were lovingly made from scratch by hand from all those wonderful Prime Rib scraps and trimmings, and was shocked when the hostess told me where they were from.

              Now I always keep a bag or two of Costco/Kirkland meatballs in the freezer so I can have them whenever I want. I have absolutely stopped making them from scratch.

            2. Oh Mannnnn...vienna sausage was bad enough ~seeing it all soft and pale in those little cans... I thought it best not to disturb it in anyway, so I never actually tried it Atlantis `has to be a guy ~ Tapas ! yeh that's the ticket!

              1. Trader Joes has small frozen meatballs that are pretty good. Frying them for about 20 minutes, possibly with some extra flavorings, adds to their character.


                1 Reply
                1. re: paulj

                  I took some TJ meatballs to a potluck the other evening. Bought TJ's teriyaki sauce and perked it up with some fresh ginger and garlic. Heated up the meatballs on a cookie sheet, put them into a bowl and poured a sparing amount of the kicked-up sauce over the meatballs. For party purposes, you don't want a lot of sloppy sauce on things.

                2. There is a popular old recipe using grape jelly and chili sauce, which I vaguely remember from the late 60s/early 70s (a period about which most memories are vague for some reason...) and which I think I heard being discussed on NPR last weekend.

                  1. I'm making some for Christmas Eve. Now I feel un-trendy :(

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Shazam

                      I'm with you, Shazam, I put together a mess of meatballs in Vernors Sauce and took it into work for our Christmas Party this week. It went pretty fast!

                    2. The grape jelly recipe waa discussed on NPR last week?
                      Now what are the odd's of that? Good thing I don't get paranoid about this stuff, although I didn't send a pledge this year..and I do miss NPR.Remember the holiday poetry contests?

                      This time of the year
                      Put all worry behind
                      For if life is the fruit
                      , then worries the rind.
                      Put a smile on yourface
                      and hold your head up high.
                      In our house your safe from the FBI.

                      1. In the spirit of the OP...

                        A couple of years ago, I worked for an award winning caterer- highly regarded for both the quality and innovation of the food- pretty high class stuff, and definitely not cheap.

                        What h'ors D'ouvre showed up at 90% of our Holiday parties? Swedish meatballs (or some other variation on the sweet/tangy).

                        Just because its slightly tacky and somewhat stomach turning, doesn't make them any less traditional than unpalatable fruitcake or dry Stollen! bwahahahah!

                        1. I love when there's meatballs at a party. That's the first thing I reach for after I grab a drink. There's something so comforting about them.

                          1. Yes - the grape jelly and chili sauce recipe for meatballs is an huge family favorite. Sometimes the old-fashioned things stick around for a reason - these meatballs really taste good and I've learned from experience that I don't dare leave it off the menu when we have a big family get-together.

                            Since mine is a big crowd, I usually double this recipe, but this is the basic: for 2 pounds of ground beef, use 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix, 1 egg and enough breadcrumbs to get it all to a good texture. While you roll the meat into bite-size balls, which is the time-consuming part of the deal, empty a bottle of chili sauce and a large jar of grape jelly into a deep pot and let the jelly melt into the sauce over low/medium heat. Stir it together and then gently drop the raw meatballs into the mixture. As the pot begins to get crowded, I kind of push them aside with a wooden spoon to get them all in. Let the sauce come to a boil and then reduce to a good simmer, stirring gently occasionally, to make sure they all get cooked evenly. The balls, if you've made them small enough, should be done in about 20 minutes. I usually prepare this the day before and refrigerate the meatballs and sauce separately. That way I can easily lift off most of the fat from the sauce before combining, reheating and serving.

                            I've learned that my nieces and nephews have now adapted this recipe by using prepackaged meatballs and tossing them, still frozen, into a crockpot with the jelly and chili sauce. I don't know how long it takes to cook that way, but I've been thinking of giving the frozen ones a try by just thawing them out and cooking them on the stove top.

                            1. Here's my meatball iteration:
                              get some Laotian sausages from your local Cambodian market (they are in the freezer case where I go. The meat chunks in the casings are quite large and gristly, with some kind of green herb visible. They are pretty hot.) Thaw and take the meat out of the casings, and mix the meat with some leftover white rice and a beaten egg or two. Bake in the oven, and serve with cranberry chutney.

                              1. Another sauce variation is Meatballs in Beer Sauce - mix 1 bottle better-quality beer with a 20 oz bottle of ketchup in a medium sauce pan. Heat it gently for a bit (I usually do until it seems well mixed, hot and a bit less bubbly). Works well for holding in a crock pot. Makes enough sauce for about 2lbs of meatballs. You dont have to be too picky about the beer, but preferably something like an Octobfest or Bass, something dark but not stout or anything like that. I made them for a holiday party last weekend and they went quick.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Angel Food

                                  I always did the equal parts catsup & beer thing. I'd get it going to a strong simmer and then take a couple of lb.s of bulk breakfast sausage and roll meat balls from it and drop them in. Let simmer until the sauce is thickened. Stand back. When the meat balls are gone people will look for anything they can get their hands on to soak up any remaining sauce.

                                2. Here's a link to a meatball/grape jelly/chili sauce recipe . . . Personally, I think I'll skip this one.


                                  1. I've made Swedish meatballs for cocktails parties and served them with lingonberry sauce - afraid I don't have the recipe with me though.

                                    1. I made cocktail meatballs for a party last weekend. They were from a Nigella recipe (here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...) for lamb meat balls, but I used a mix of beef and port, with middle eastern spices. They were great, although no one ate them. More for me and the hubby!

                                      1. I have to say... I LOVE my grandma's grape jelly meatballs. I only found out a few months ago that that's what the secret ingredient was. Now that grandma's not doing so well and she probably won't be making them any more, I'm actually really glad to see the chili sauce/grape jelly recipe here, so we can keep some of our food traditions going. I also learned her gefilte fish method. However, she's still got some secrets I can't figure out.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: annimal

                                          why is she keeping them a secret? let her know you're interested....that'll make her feel TONS better. Take a small tape recorder next time you see her and get her talking about food and her kids at holiday time. You'll record some valuable family food traditions to share with all. Best wishes to your Grammie!

                                          1. re: toodie jane

                                            oh, she knows I'm interested. It's more that she really hasn't been up to talking much. She's doing a lot better, so we'll be talking a lot more in the coming weeks! Thanks for the good thoughts!

                                        2. I had the grape jelly and chili sauce meatballs for the first time several years ago at a friend's house (probably with frozen meatballs) and I am amazed to say that they were delicious. If she had told me in advance what was in them, I dunno if I would have eaten them, the idea is appalling. But in fact, they were very tasty.

                                          1. Thanks to all for your help on this one ~ It is the little stuff that can throw you during the holidays and this one has already made it very clear that it is pretty much out of my control. Grammies recipe it is !!! I just love a woman with a secret!

                                            1. Just make sure you serve your meatballs with fancy toothpicks. KITCH CITY!

                                              1. There's also a recipe for appetizer sized meatballs in the new issue of Gourmet. They look good--especially paired with the cocktail they recommend!

                                                1. I served sweet and sour cocktail meatballs at a party last weekend and they were polished off. People like to eat something that is substantial when they are drinking all night or they will be obliterated. Meat balls are easy to pop in your mouth and they provide a good base for holiday imbibing. Some of the trendier, more exotic apps were still around at the end of the evening. People like comfort food - even at parties.

                                                  1. The spicy pork meat balls with guacamole from Tamsin Day Lewis' Well Tempered Food are wonderful. They disappear quickly.

                                                    1. Here's the Imprimatur for meatballs:
                                                      I recently attended a small, private cocktail party hosted by an older, very chic, European woman in honor of a US Senator/probable Presidential Candidate.
                                                      The bar: champagne, freshly-squeezed OJ, San Pellegrino.
                                                      The hors d'oeuvres: spanikopita, gravlax on buttered dark bread, nuts (no peanuts) in silver bowls, fried shrimp wontons that looked like beggars purses passed on a silver tray, and - Ta Da! - Swedish Meatballs in a crystal bowl.
                                                      Cloth napkins. Staff in uniform.
                                                      The conclusion: we aren't going to call them tacky any more. No more eye-rolling.
                                                      (Y'all secretly enjoy them anyway - admit it!)

                                                      1. Sometimes those old standards are the best. The grape jelly/chili sauce meatballs are good when I've had them at a party and always indulge. I'm not too snobbish, and neither are you.

                                                        There's also a grape jelly/dijon mustard dip for a shrimp and snow pea skewer that my SIL makes. It's really good, and you just can't roll your eyes at them, because you end up eating it and enjoying the combination of flavors.

                                                        1. I just made some for a small family gathering. They were all eaten. I got my recipe from an old community Jewish cookbook. Ingredients for the cooking sauce are ketchup and ginger ale.

                                                          1. I love to make cocktail meatballs for appetizers when having cocktails and they do get eaten quickly. My two very favorite recipes and most popular recipes are the Danish meatballs, they have a sourcream based sauce with dill. And the other, sweet and sour meat balls made with a tangy sweet and sour sauce I make from pineapple and brown sugar, tomato, hoisin, vinegar and a few other ingredients/ They both get raves. You can use either the prepackaged meatballs you find at Costco, or TJ, or make them with freshly ground meat. I've found that either way they fly off the chafing dish.

                                                            1. I still love the grape jelly chili meatballs.

                                                              I make small meatballs and bake them in the oven on one of the foil broiler pans so the meatballs aren't swimming in the fat. They get nicely browned in the oven. I mix the same amount of chili sauce and grape jelly together in a pan and melt it. Toss in the meatballs. Sooooo good. Sometimes I'll use a little more grape jelly than chili. Depends on the sweet tooth that day.

                                                              For meatballs - for every pound of beef I add 1 C of freshly made plain bread crumbs. Fresh chopped parsley, salt, pepper, a little minced onion sauteed in butter, 1 egg, about 1/4 cup of cream, whatever other seasoning I feel like adding.. depends on the day. Sometimes I add pasta sauce to the beef mix and/or Italian seasoning. Don't squish the meatballs too much when you make them, roll them lightly in balls. Bake in a 350 oven on broiling plate. Make sure you spray the pans with PAM before putting the meatballs on it.

                                                              1. Here' s a really tasty one....1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of pinot noir, 1 can of blackberry filling, 1 tbs chinese mustard. Heat in sauce pan until sugar is dissolved, pour over meatballs in the crockpot.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: triciav

                                                                  That sounds oddly delicious - I'll have to give it a try! I'm also fascinated by the "Vernors Sauce" mentioned upthread - I grew up in MI but I have never heard of such a thing. Any other Michiganders out there have a recipe?

                                                                2. Kielbasa is really good with the chili sauce/grape jelly sauce. Really.... chili sauce and apricot jam..

                                                                  1. My mom sometimes made cocktail wieners in a black currant jelly-and-mustard sauce. They were fantastic, and I suspect that sauce would be very good with meatballs, too.

                                                                    1. Not sure why this old thread is back, but will chime in with the version that introduced me to this dish - the sauce was equal parts ketchup and jellied cranberry sauce. Too intense for my tastes but I modified it slightly to a 1:1:1 combo of plain canned tomato sauce or puree, ketchup, and cranberry sauce. I usually add chopped onion too. Melt that all together, then arrange the raw meatballs over the sauce and let it bubble gently for 20 minutes before gently turning the meatballs over to finish cooking for another 15 min. That way the meat and sauce flavors meld.