To: Santa’s Helpers
Surprisingly, zesty meatballs were a going concern leading up to Christmas this year. My family is so flexible and easy-going that I rarely get special food requests. For a cook that has plenty of cravings of her own that’s a lot of freedom. A couple of weeks ago when we were talking about our upcoming Christmas Eve dinner I was surprised to hear, “you should make those meatballs.” Apparently, these flavour bursting, bite sized morsels standout from the tapas style spread that I make each year, so much so that they get a special mention.
More Votes for Zesty Meatballs
Last night, we warmed up for Christmas with a glorious dinner and cocktail party with friends. This is an annual tradition that I look forward to with anticipation. Our hosts live in a well-loved house that was built in the early 1900s. It still has the original Douglas fir floors and window and door trims, warm wood reminding me of my grandparents’ house. We snuggle in for a festive evening with friends, some of whom we only see a few times a year. Our hosts’ gifts to us are artistically expressed in their arrangement of strings of tiny white lights, layers of candles, conifer garlands, silver ornaments, bursts of flowers, and an incredible array of food. Most of us love to cook and we all love to eat fine cuisine. We reveled in our friendships, ambiance, aromas and flavours.
Earlier in the day and lagging in creativity, I decided to make zesty meatballs, an easy recipe that suits my taste buds. I ignored nagging thoughts that I made them last year, probably the year before, and maybe even the year before that. To my surprise, soon after we arrived at the party a friend exuberantly said she was thinking about those meatballs on the drive to the party, hoping that I was going to make them again.
It’s Official; Zesty Meatballs are a Christmas Tradition
With all the endorsements this year, it’s now official, zesty meatballs are a Christmas Tradition, albeit an evolving one. I first learned this recipe from a friend in Burlington, Ontario. I am pretty sure that I have not made them the same way twice, a common theme for my recipes.
Merry Christmas to all and best wishes for a glorious New Year. May 2014 be filled with peace and joy.
And finally now for the secret recipe for Zesty Meatballs…
The original recipe (in part)
2 kg extra lean ground beef
250 ml Welches grape jelly
2 455 ml bottles Heinz chili sauce
These are the only ingredients I can remember. I vaguely recall dry mustard in there and perhaps onions. Despite the ingredients, they were a big hit way back then.
Zesty Meatballs transformed: last night’s 2013 version
2 kg extra lean ground beef
2 medium sized onions grated (cheese grater)
1 cup bread crumbs
pepper to taste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Mix all ingredients. Form meatballs. Brown them well on the outside in a hot frying pan.
2 medium sized onions finely diced
2 455 ml bottles Heinz Chili Sauce (sometimes I make this sauce from scratch but I have to confess not last night…)
265 ml or to taste sweet jelly of your choice (e.g., red pepper, chipotle pepper, red currant, black current)
2 Tbsp or to taste of mustard of your choice (e.g., Dijon, stone ground mustard)
Coarse ground pepper to taste
In a large pot, saute onions in butter or oil until lightly browned. Add remaining ingredients for sauce and then add well-browned meatballs. Sauce should cover meatballs. Simmer at low heat for at least an hour, longer will give you a rich thick sauce. Stir periodically. Start with lid on and the remove to allow sauce to thicken, if needed.