Yesterday was cold and windy here in Connecticut and the best place to be was in my kitchen creating these Southwest Cocktail Meatballs. I wanted to come up with an appetizer recipe that would be perfect for serving at any holiday gathering. What I discovered was that these little gems would also be perfect for game day snacking and for any special occasion celebration.
The blend of beef and pork with a few other ingredients and some typical southwestern spices came together harmoniously. Well balanced flavor in the meatballs coupled with the sauce that goes along with them makes these one of the best meatball recipes I've ever tasted.
You could make a batch or two of these tasty treats in advance of the event you are planning. I would also venture a guess that you could freeze these as well as long as you make sure they are sealed properly in a zip lock bag with the air removed. I've often said I don't like freezing beef for very long periods of time so I will still hold that as truth for these meatballs. The longest period of time I prefer to have any frozen protein is about 2 weeks. Chicken is about the only exception to my steadfast rule.
I must tell you this recipe comes together very quickly and the added time is in the rolling of the meatballs and browning them on the stove top prior to baking them in the oven with the sauce to finish cooking. To make the meatballs bite size and consistent I used my 1 inch scoop. I was able to get approximately 75 meatballs out of this batch. When figuring how much you will need the general rule is 3-4 per person if you are serving multiple appetizers. This batch of meatballs, based on 4 per person feeds about 18 people.
Here is the ingredient list for the meatballs:
- 1 1/4 lbs. ground beef (I used chuck)
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 plain kaiser roll (for making fresh bread crumbs)
- 2 eggs (large)
- 1/2 cup onion - tiny dice
- 1 tsp. salt (I used kosher)
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley - minced
- 1 tbsp. oil (regular olive oil, vegetable, canola)
- 1 - 10 oz. jar apricot or peach preserves
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
- In a bowl mix the two sauce ingredients until blended and set aside.
- Cut up the onion into a tiny dice by hand or pulse in a food processor until the onion is tiny.
- Break up the kaiser roll and place in a food processor and grind down to a fairly fine crumb.
- In a large bowl combine the beef, pork, onion, fresh bread crumbs, parsley, egg and spices. Mix well by hand but do not overwork the mixture.
- Using a 1 inch scoop as a guide roll the meatballs and place on a baking sheet or large platter.
- Place a large skillet on the stove top over medium high heat. Allow the skillet to get hot and add the oil. Swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet.
- Add the meatballs to the pan to brown on all sides. Use a large spoon or tongs to gently roll the meatballs around to brown. Do in batches as necessary. I think I did five batches as I never like to over crowd the pan. They should not be cooked all the way through at this point.
- When all your meatballs are browned, place them in a glass baking dish and pour the sauce over them.
- Baked in a preheated 350° oven uncovered for 15 minutes.
Your guests are going to love these cocktail meatballs. Serve with tiny forks or colored toothpicks. I figured the cost of this recipe to be approximately $12.95 for a batch of about 75 cocktail size meatballs.