Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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Sweet & Sour meatballs are one of those dated recipes that tend to be looked down on in our modern era of free ranging and locally sourcing. They’re a kitschy appetizer that make me think of 60’s holiday parties complete with Velveeta, shoulder pads, perms, and tinsel. There’s nothing gourmet or sophisticated about the recipe and yet the combination of flavors and textures just works somehow and keeps you reaching for one more tangy morsel. We decided to take this campy dish and give it an update and a spicy kick by using a combination of beef and pork and adding garlic, fresh ginger, red pepper flakes, and chili sauce. Our version is less sweet and more tangy than most traditional recipes and has a much greater complexity and depth of flavor. If you’re looking for an easy and tasty appetizer to make for this year’s New Year’s Eve party try these meatballs! They can also be turned into a delicious main dish by serving them over rice with some steamed veggies. Trust me…don’t be superior to the Sweet & Sour meatball!

Meat Balls-232 - Small Katryn’s Wine Pairing: Gruet Brut
Rating: 6.0 out of 10.0

Unfortunately this sparkling wine was a miss for me. I liked the first sip but it grew flat extremely quickly and then had a vaguely bitter flavor that I didn’t care for. I was intrigued by this wine because it is a sparkling champagne style wine produced in New Mexico (unusual, right?) and is a mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir….it even came highly recommended by our trusted wine store clerk. It was good with the meatballs but I liked the Graham Beck Brut Sparkling Wine (also a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir mix) that we had a few weeks ago with our pancakes much better.

Meat Balls-235 - Small Nathan’s Beer Pairing: Boont Amber Ale, Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Rating: 8.0 out of 10.0

This was a very well balanced Amber Ale but didn’t stand out in any particular way. The beer starts out with a light aroma of hops, citrus, and honey and is followed with initial flavors of hops and then mellowing out with nice malt flavors at the end of the drink. I knew that the malt flavors from an amber ale would help mellow out the sweet, sour, and spicy flavors of the meatballs but what I didn’t expect is how the hops would heighten the sour flavors and accentuate the spice. It made a really interesting pairing as the hops take the flavors of the meatballs over the top only for the malt to immediately cleanse your palate.

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Sweet and Sour Meatballs:


For the meatballs:
½ pound ground beef
½ ground pork
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 egg
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
1 onion, finely diced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper

For the sauce:
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
½ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
½ tsp. Chili Sauce
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
5 Tbs. soy sauce


1. In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef and pork, garlic, egg, bread crumbs and onion. Mix thoroughly and shape into tablespoon sized balls.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, gently brown the meatballs and set aside.
3. In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, water, white vinegar, ketchup, chili sauce, ginger, and soy sauce. Mix thoroughly. Add meatballs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes.

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