Classic Cocktail Meatballs

Wow, February can be a really busy month for entertaining. There are several occasions around which you can plan themed parties. And, they fall within a few weeks. You have Super Bowl, Mardi Gras and Valentine's Day.

The first could be a Super Bowl party this Sunday. For over 50 years friends have gathered to watch pro football’s game of games. 

Better yet, it could be a party to watch and vote for your favorite commercials that typically run but once a year. I’ve always liked the Budweiser/Clydesdale ads that tug at your heart. 

While rooting for your favorite team, there’s always a smorgasbord of classic finger foods. They might include Buffalo wings, either battered and fried or baked without batter — a little messy but so tasty, and chips with guacamole, both quite easy to prepare.

This year, I have a “tried and true” recipe for cocktail meatballs. 

I’m not sure if this is a Heinz or Kraft Foods recipe, but the sauce for the meatballs has only two ingredients — chili sauce and grape jelly. I’m not kidding. It sounds like an odd combination. But, believe it or not, you’ve probably had it more times than you can count. A classic, it has been likened to the little black dress, a timeless favorite.

The meatballs can be made a day or two ahead. Then, an hour before serving, reheat them with the sauce. It promises to be a real crowd pleaser.

The other occasions over the next two weeks include the Chinese New Year on the 8th, Mardi Gras on the 9th and Valentines Day on the 14th.

Ingredients: Makes approximately 7 dozen

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 pounds 85-percent lean ground beef
1 cup gluten-free fresh bread crumbs *

1 extra-large egg
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
½ teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 350° F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat, add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. 

Once cooled, add the beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, and peppers. Use your hands to mix the ingredients thoroughly. If you’re squeamish about using your hands, use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low.

With your hands, shape the mixture into 1-inch meatballs and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a large saucepan, cover with sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.