Cranberry jelly is the secret to these sweet and savory BBQ meatballs.
1 cup bottled chili sauce (such as Heinz)
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sauce from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 (14-ounce) cans cranberry jelly
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds 85/15 ground beef
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons olive oil
How to Make It
Whisk together first 7 ingredients and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepot over medium heat. Cook, whisking frequently, 12 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until softened. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; let cool 10 minutes. Add remaining 1 teaspoon salt, beef, and next 4 ingredients. Mix thoroughly--by hand works best--and shape into 48 (3/4-ounce) balls.
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of meatballs. Cook 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove from pan. Repeat with remaining oil and remaining meatballs.
Heat sauce in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Adjust heat to maintain a very low simmer. Add meatballs (you may have to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your pot), and simmer 7 minutes.
I liked the flavors here. The cranberry especially was a welcome addition. My one criticism is that the sauce is too sweet. Should I make this again I'll definitely leave out the sugar and perhaps look for other ways to ratchet down the sweetness
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