Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Remember that double batch of meatballs I made this week? Tonight's dinner was the reason for making so much extra.

Usually we have meatballs with some kind of Italian-style meal - with some kind of pasta, or as meatball parmesan hoagies... whatever it is, the meal usually includes red sauce of some sort.

Except when we have sweet and sour meatballs.

This is one recipe that most people react to with pretty funny looks. Because these are the two main ingredients:

Chili sauce and grape jelly. Such an odd combination, I know!

As an aside - do you know how hard it is to find either of these ingredients, much less both, without high fructose corn syrup?? Crazy. But I did. *phew*

Anyway, these are super easy to make, and are really tasty. There is a ton of leeway with this recipe, too, which is part of what is so fun about it - everyone can add their own twist, or adjust the recipe based on what is in the pantry on any given day. The way I have been making them the last couple of times has worked for us, so that is what I did tonight. All you have to do is combine your ingredients in a pot, heat over medium until the ingredients start to come together and simmer, add your meatballs, then simmer for as long as you want - either just until the meatballs are heated through, if you are in a hurry, or for a couple of hours, if you want to infuse the meatballs with more of the sweet and sour flavor. The extra time also helps the sauce thicken a little.

In addition to the chili sauce and grape jelly, also add a splash of lemon juice. And if you don't have chili sauce, use cocktail sauce. And if you don't have cocktail sauce, use ketchup. I kid you not. Play with flavors and combinations until you come up with what works for you. I add a dash of teriyaki sauce into ours. Gives it some extra kick. As I said - lots of leeway in this one. And use any meatballs you want - make your own, use frozen - whatever works. Technically, you don't even have to cook the meatballs first, they can actually cook right in the sauce. I just feel that that adds more fat into the sauce than I'd like, so I cook mine first. But do what works for you.

I serve these over rice, though I think they would go really well over egg noodles, also. Rice is just what we have always done. Funny how that happens. I don't make these all that often, but little miss gobbles them up when I do, and it is a great change of pace from meatballs with red sauce.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs (basic recipe)
(Family recipe)

1 jar chili sauce
1 jar grape jam
Juice of one lemon
meatballs, however you like to prepare them (you can use frozen or make your own - whatever works for you!)

In a large pot, combine chili sauce, jam and lemon. Heat this mixture over medium heat until it starts to come together. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer at least 30 minutes, until meatballs are heated thorough.

You can actually cook the meatballs right in the sauce - I prefer to cook them first, so the sauce doesn't get extra greasy.

You can substitute ketchup or cocktail sauce for the chili sauce. You can also use another flavor of jam, if you are adventurous. Once I added a splash or two of teriyaki sauce. It's very adaptable, and it's been delicious no matter what I've tried. Be creative!

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