Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grape Jelly Cocktail Meatballs and Smokies Sausages

Grape jelly meatballs, made with homemade or frozen meatballs, chili sauce and grape jelly, are classic south and always a crowd favorite for any gathering.

Grape Jelly Cocktail Meatballs

Cocktail meatballs with grape jelly sauce. As country as that may sound to some, these little meatballs - and sometimes little smokies (or Lit'l Smokies) sausages - drenched in a sauce of grape jelly with tomato based chili sauce is just outright loved down south. I think it will always be.

Except for the addition of hot pepper jelly, these are pretty much the original meatballs and Little Smokies sausages from that I personally have been making since the 70s, and the same ones my Mama made for every single catered affair she ever did.

They may be considered low brow by some folks, but they are Classic South, people expect to see them at a party and we are totally endeared to them down here! They are easy, simple, and always a crowd favorite for any gathering. Simply delicious - but better make plenty, because they disappear quick!

I used to love when my relatives would host open house parties over the holidays. We used to go from house to house to house and visit and catch up, eat and well, back in the day, there might have been a bit of "spirits" involved, and I don't mean the supernatural kind. It was a different time back then is all I can say! Nobody needed invitations, it was just sort of a given on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and pretty much all day.

Of course, if you decide to host a New Year's Eve Open House - sans the alcohol to avoid any problems - easier than policing the designated drivers, you can do it a bit more formally and send out invitations with specific times to tell people to feel free to drop by.

Whether it's a party of many, just the family or just the two of you, these meatballs are a great addition to the party menu. You can keep them going in a slow cooker and they are so good! I do have to say one thing here about that though. You must allow plenty of time for those frozen meatballs to cook through if you're using a slow cooker. I've been to a few parties where the meatballs were ice cold. You can follow the package direction to heat them before putting them in a crockpot, or just simply make sure that you allow enough time for them to get hot.

Laugh these off if you want to, but when my Mama was doing some catering work, this was the go-to recipe she used for those tiny cocktail sausages and meatballs that most everybody wanted. It's hard to believe that the base is made with grape jelly mixed with bottled chili sauce, but it sure is! Now folks, in case you don't know, chili sauce has nothing to do with "chili" as in chili with or without beans! It's actually a ketchup based sauce that looks like this - sort of a seasoned ketchup if you will. If you don't have any on hand, I made up a homemade version once when I ran out. You'll find that here.

Heinz Chili Sauce is a tomato based product, containing tomato puree, onion, garlic and other seasonings

I'm not personally as big a fan of the little sausages, as The Cajun is, so I prefer the meatballs over the sausages. The meatballs just seem to soak up the sauce better. Course, if you don't want to make your own meatballs, you can certainly use the pre-made frozen ones with this sauce too. The sauce is the star really.

Grape jelly & brown sugar meatballs with a splash of Maker's Mark! Variation is found in the cook's notes at the bottom of the recipe below.
If you're looking for a nibble for any party, these are a definite winner. Multiply it by however many pounds of sausages or meatballs you'll want to make depending on your number of guests.

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Recipe: Grape Jelly Cocktail Meatballs and Smokies Sausages

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 24 meatballs


For the Meatballs (omit for sausages):
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup of onion, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup of olive, vegetable or canola oil, or vegetable shortening
For the Sauce:
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle of chili sauce
  • 1 (10 ounce) jar of grape jelly
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot pepper jelly, optional

Mix the ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, milk, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire. Gently shape into 1-inch balls.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs. Remove the meatballs, set aside and pour off the fat from the skillet. Pour the chili sauce and the grape jelly into the skillet and heat, stirring constantly until all of the jelly has melted. To kick it up a bit, stir in some hot pepper jelly. Return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes. To keep warm place into a chafing or warming dish, or deposit the whole skillet into a crockpot and keep covered on low, checking occasionally to make sure that meatballs are not crumbling.

Cocktail Sausages: Substitute two (14 ounce) packages cocktail sausages for the meatballs, eliminate all other ingredients except for the chili sauce and grape jelly.

Cook's Notes: This recipe works great with pre-cooked, frozen meatballs, and they sure are a time saver. Just eliminate all of the meatball ingredients in the recipe, warm the sauce as above, then stir in the frozen meatballs with the heated sauce. Simmer on low to warm the meatballs through well, about 20 minutes, gently stirring them several times, then transfer them to a crockpot to keep warm if you like. My brand preference is Hillshire Farms Cocktail Smokies, Heinz brand chili sauce and Welch's grape jelly. Do not substitute Thai chili sauce or hot dog sauce!

Frozen Meatballs in the Crockpot: Heat the sauce on the stovetop. Place frozen meatballs into the crockpot and follow the suggestion on the bag of your brand of meatballs for heating. Generally speaking you will need to allow about 3 hours for the meatballs to be ready to serve; about 2 hours on high, then another hour on low. Fresh cooked meatballs will only need to be held in the crockpot on low.

Variations: Try substituting a can of jellied cranberry sauce or small bottle of barbecue sauce in place of the grape jelly. I also have a homemade version of chili sauce here. A couple of tablespoons of your favorite whisky or bourbon (Maker's Mark is my personal favorite) is also excellent. Other jellies may be used, such as apricot.

Brown Sugar Meatballs: Combine chili sauce and grape jelly with 3/4 cup of light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Creole or yellow mustard, 1/2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and a dash or two of hot sauce. Add a splash or two of bourbon if you like (I like!)

Cranberry Meatballs: Omit grape jelly. Add in 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon yellow mustard, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and a dash hot pepper sauce.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on December 30, 2008

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