This classic appetizer has been around… Well, like forever. And I’m sure that there are dozens of variations on this classic dish all around this site. They seem a bit low-brow to some folks, but down South, they are considered a classic, and I think that they always will.
This recipe uses homemade chili sauce, a really good grape jelly, and a secret ingredient. Add to that a batch of homemade Italian meatballs, and there you go.
This is a staple on my sideboard during holiday open house days, and it always disappears.
Make 1/2 batch of the beef/pork meatballs, and when shaping them, make them about the size of one-tablespoon of mixture.
This should produce about 2-dozen meatballs.
Chef's Note: At this point you can freeze them, uncooked and bring them out and cook them the day of the party.
They can be frozen for several weeks without harming their flavor.
Chef's Tip: To freeze them, the best way is to place the uncooked meatballs on a parchment-lined baking pan, and then place them in the freezer… When they are frozen, you can remove them from the pan, and place them in sealed zip-lock bags. This will keep them from sticking together.
Make 2 batches of the homemade chili sauce, and reserve. The sauce can be made several days ahead, and then refrigerated until needed.
THE DAY OF THE PARTY
Partially bake the meatballs in the oven… cut the baking time on the recipe, to 20 minutes at 430f (220c).
The meatballs, if frozen, should be left out at room temperature for about an hour before baking.
Add 12ounces of the chili sauce (reserve the remainder for another use), and 12 ounces of the grape jelly to a sauce pan, and bring up to a very light simmer.
Chef's Tip: There are a lot of jellies out their in the marketplace, and I prefer to try some of the smaller batch companies. For example, one of my favorites for this recipe is: Muscat Grape Jelly, from Bonnie Maman.
If you want to kick it up, try adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of pepper jelly to the sauce (optional).
Add the meatballs and continue to lightly simmer for about 15 minutes before serving.
Cooking Tip: A very light simmer is where you will see very little movement in the liquid, with wisps of steam coming off the top.
Remove from saucepan, and serve in any one of a number of ways.
Serving Tip: You could actually cook them up in a small crock pot, and allow your guests to spoon them out from there… That's called rustic.
Serving Tip: You could plate them on a nice dish, and stick toothpicks in each one… That's called being fancy.
Cooking Tip: If you want to add an additional note of flavor to this dish, try adding a tablespoon of unsweetened cacao powder.
Chef's Note: You can make these vegetarian, by purchasing or making veggie-style meatballs.