Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Appetizer Cape Cod Meatballs

What is more American, really, than beef meatballs? Not much, except maybe hamburgers and hot dogs. Seems like in years past, as in the 1970's, every party you went to, hostesses served meatballs. Then they seemed to go out of vogue. I served so many of the darned things, I was tired of the usual currant jelly and mustard combination for the sauce. Remember those guys? I even had a copper chafing dish (a hand-me-down from my mother) that I used for them.

These days you never see chafing dishes except brought in by caterers. They really were functional, but they took up SO much space to store. People seemed to move to more casual entertaining. I sure did. After years of not using the chafing dish I finally gave it away. I have a cupboard in our garage that I've usurped for big serving things (my big coffee pot, for one), but my DH really thinks ALL the shelves in the garage belong to him, so I have to fight for shelf space. Just like the vendors in grocery stores fight for one more can width of space for their products. Visibility. Visibility.

Last year, prior to our kitchen remodel, I ordered a 2-burner hot plate to use in our temporary kitchen. It's a very attractive thing - found it on one of the shopping channels. It worked wonderfully well during our construction phase, but it's now stored away in the laundry room. But WITH the hot plate came two equally attractive round cooking pots. They are nothing extraordinary. I had to go look up the brand - Command Performance Gold. Made in China. Hmmm. No wonder the set was such a bargain. But they look very nice. They are stainless steel with a gold band around the middle, gold handles and glass lids. You can cook in them too, although I'm sure they're not up the standards of All-Clad or Calphalon. But they've served me well.

So, when we had a kitchen warming party after our kitchen was completed, I used the 2-burner hot plate for two of the dishes I was serving. The butternut squash soup with jalapeno and ginger, that is one of my favorite recipes now, went in the larger pot, and the meatballs went into the smaller pot, to be refilled from a big pot in the oven keeping things warm. I made lots of the meatballs.

Normally I'd make my own meatballs, but we had about 30 people coming, and just didn't have time, so I did something I rarely do - I went to Trader Joe's and used their pre-cooked mini-meatballs in their frozen cases. What a Godsend they were. And they are delicious. I suppose they have some filler in them, but it's not pronounced. It made the compiling of this dish a snap. Really, I mean it. It couldn't have taken more than 10 minutes prep time to get these ready. The sauce needs to be cooked a little bit, but not much. Then the whole batch went in the oven (or a crock pot would work just fine too) to be warmed through. How easy is that?

Everybody seemed to like meatballs. I had 4 pounds of them, and they were all gone. What does that tell you? You need to make these the next time you have a party. They are sweet - because of the cranberry sauce and the bottled chili sauce - so I don't think they'd make a very good sauce for pasta, for instance. But they taste just fine as leftovers with a vegetable and green salad.

This recipe came from a Cape Cod cookbook: Mystic Seaport: A New England Table. The book was published by the Mystic Seaport Museum and much of the book contains fried things, particuarly fish items, but this recipe jumped out at me, especially for the holidays, since it uses cranberries. The book is already out of print at online bookstores, but is available online at the Museum (click the link above). I found the book in an independent bookstore somewhere several years ago. I'll be making this again and again. Try it.

Cape Cod Meatballs Piquant
Recipe from Mystic Seaport: A New England Table
Servings: 36
2 pounds ground beef
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup water
1 cup bread crumbs
1 small onion -- finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
16 ounces cranberry sauce -- use sauce, not cranberry jelly
12 ounces chili sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons parsley -- minced
1. Meatballs: combine beef, eggs, water, bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper. Shape into walnut sized balls and set aside.
2. Sauce: In a large Dutch oven or deep saucepan, combine remaining ingredients (except parsley). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cranberry sauce has melted. Add meatballs and simmer for 45 minutes, gently stirring to make sure none stick. Serve hot in a chafing dish sprinkled with parsley. Or, if you use the Trader Joe's pre-cooked meatballs, you can heat these in a crock pot for several hours. They just have to be heated through.
NOTES : If you want to simplify this, buy ready-made, pre-cooked, frozen (mini) meatballs at Trader Joe's. Put together the sauce, add the defrosted meatballs and heat in the oven for about an hour at 250°, then serve as above. This recipe assumes each person will eat two meatballs. These are on the sweet side, obviously.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 119 Calories; 7g Fat (54.0% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 33mg Cholesterol; 142mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
To view a printable recipe, click title at top.


Anonymous said...

Do you just read the comments and delete them? I can't imagine not having any comments ever.

These meatballs look delicious. I will try them soon. Thanks. I enjoy your daily read. Jancd

Carolyn T said...

Thank you! No, I don't delete any comments, except one that was spam. I do have occasional comments, but certainly not very many! Glad you're enjoying reading my blog.