As with so many of the amazing recipes I find all over the internet, I’ve had this one saved in my “want to make” folder for at least a year. And for my family’s Christmas Eve party this year, I finally had an occasion to make it! Wow, are these good. Thanks to Chico’s Kitchen for the recipe, which I’ve used as the perfect base and altered a bit to include some of my favorite flavors (read: garlic garlic garlic). They were also very portable in my mama’s crock pot, but if I had had my Dutch oven handy, that would have done the trick as well. These meatballs are the perfect easy appetizer for mini-munching, and they’re relatively guilt free if you use lean meat. I definitely popped a few in my mouth while I stood at the stove, and stirred them in the crock pot, and walked them around the party….I defy you not to do the same!
for the meatballs:
1 1/2 large onions, finely chopped
2 1/2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp granulated garlic
4 lbs ground meat (I used half beef, half turkey, but if you can get your hands on anything fancy like veal sausage or ground lamb, they would be awesome here too)
for the sauce:
1 1/2 large onions, sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 cans crushed tomato
1 1/2 cups stock or water (I used beef stock)
Combine all ingredients for meat in a large bowl.
Form into balls and brown in a skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. Brown them in batches, careful not to crowd the pan; we don’t want the meatballs to braise or steam. They do not need to be cooked through at this point; we just want to get some color on ’em.
*NOTE: I HIGHLY recommend having a partner in crime to help with this. My mama rolled the meatballs while I browned them and it went so much faster!
While the meatballs are browning, cook the onions for the sauce in a separate pan. Put them in a bowl and add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar and stir. Set aside.
When the meatballs are browned, put them in a crock pot or Dutch oven. In the pan where we cooked the meatballs, add the balsamic onions, the crushed tomato, and the stock or water. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then pour the sauce over the meatballs and cook on low for 2-3 hours.
Serve with toothpicks for easy munching. These also make amazing leftovers: serve a big scoop of the sauce and a couple meatballs over a bed of rice. Merry Christmas!