#123 cocktail meatballs

What’s the story behind these classic American party favorites?  There’s entertaining, and then there’s entertaining, so they say…and it seems to me, nothing shouts timeless family gathering more than these delicious meat poppers.  Even today they remain a true party favorite, so it’s really no surprise that they’re found in every single American cookbook!  Who can resist a platter of cocktail meatballs?

Anytime you hear an announcement for a cocktail party, you can’t deny reminiscing on those stories (people like me only hear) about the 1960’s and their evenings dressed in cocktail dresses & cocktail hats, enjoying good chatter with Manhattans, Gibsons, and dirty martinis…and how about the menu?  Devilled eggs, cocktail meatballs, and a good cheddar cheese fondue station – apparently it was such a fad food for the period that just about every newlywed got a fondue pot, which they probably used ONCE.  Anyway, meatballs eventually paved their way into the cocktail scene and we all loved to have them there!

Meatballs are so much a thing of their own, different kinds & different sorts out there.  Early recipes included in some of the earliest known Arabic cookbooks generally feature seasoned lamb rolled into orange-sized balls and glazed with egg yolk & sometimes saffron.  This method was taken to the West and many regional variations now exist across Europe & Asia, from the Bulgarian big meatball, tatarsko kufte, the Danish frikadeller, the Ínegöl meatballs from Turkey, to the more popular (to us) Italian meatballs, Swedish meatballs, and our very own delicious Iberian-influenced albóndigas.  Like many of them, cocktail meatballs found their way into the American diet, and became a good indication of social circle soirées as the one of the trademarks for ‘fancy cocktail party’.

For the Meatballs

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of crushed cornflakes
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of minced onion
  • 1/8 cup of finely chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350°F (220°C) and combine the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.  Form into meatballs approximately 1 inch in diameter.  Arrange in a baking pan.  At this point, you can prepare the traditional sauce that garnishes these little guys, but I decided to omit the sauce this time (for a kiddie-friendly version) and simply serve it on the side.

For the Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 can of jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of chili sauce

In a medium saucepan combine the ingredients and stir over medium heat until the cranberry sauce melts.  Pour over the meatballs in the pan or set aside for dipping.  Bake the meatballs, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Set your table with a platter of these delicious treats and watch them disappear!


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