These started as an accident and since they worked out better than I thought they would, I experimented until they were what I thought they should be. Cranberry sauce is a favorite condiment in our house at Thanksgiving but rarely is it seen at any other time of year. My MOPS group had a stock swap a while back and among other useful items, I picked up a can of cranberry sauce. I decided that it would be interesting to try that in place of the usual grape jelly and bbq sauce that I smother my meatballs in. It was good, but needed more oomph. I scaled back the bbq sauce to just a little bit because it completely overwhelmed the zingy cranberry flavor and then I added back just a touch of grape jelly to give back some of the sweetness. Bingo!
1) Follow my recipe for the meatballs, or use your own. This time I swapped out the sage for dried parsley.
2) While your meatballs firm up in the freezer, assemble the following for the sauce:
1 (14 ounce) can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1/3 cup grape jelly
2 Tbl. barbeque sauce or ketchup
1 Tbl. dry minced onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3) Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a slow cooker. Turn it on low to melt the jelly and cranberry sauce while your meatballs are in the oven.
4) When the meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the slow cooker and stir to coat. Let them cook on low for at least an hour. Once they are done you can serve them or turn them down to the warm setting until mealtime.
#1 While your meatballs bake for 15 minutes, bring the sauce to a low boil in a sauce pan and toss in the cooked meatballs. Stir to coat. This is faster if you’re on a tight schedule and tastes just as good as the slow cooker method.
#2 If you are using pre-made frozen meatballs, you could add them to the slow cooker and let them cook in there. Since I make my meatballs fresh by hand, they would disintegrate if I tried this, but if I let them freeze solid they would do fine.
#3 Instead of using meatballs, use this sauce instead of ketchup to baste a meatloaf and serve alongside.
#4 (I haven’t tried this yet, but I definitely plan to.) Use ground turkey and some leftover Thanksgiving stuffing to create some flavorful meatballs to swim in this sauce. I think this would be really great and I’ll update again once I try it out.