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Cooking: A sweet-and-tangy meatball fit for a holiday party
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sometimes failure can taste pretty good. That certainly was the case with these meatballs.

I wanted to create delicious, all-purpose meatballs suitable for tossing with marinara over spaghetti. Except it didn't quite work out that way. The meatballs, while certainly delicious, were both too tangy and too sweet to pair with your basic pasta sauce. And they certainly didn't agree with the mandatory Parmesan that spaghetti calls for.

So I tried them in a curry sauce. Indian food is particularly welcoming to that play of sweet and heat, tangy and savory. But that wasn't quite right, either.

I was resistant to changing the meatballs themselves. Because while they didn't partner well with anything I'd tried, I still thought they were good. And they certainly were worth salvaging. Then it hit me. Embrace the tangy, sweet-and-savory side of these meatballs. Turn them into party food.

I ended up with these cocktail meatballs, perfect for setting out with toothpicks for a holiday gathering. And it turned out the sauce couldn't have been simpler — tomatoes and cranberry sauce.

food@sltrib.com

Cocktail meatballs with cranberry marinara

3 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno slices

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 pounds ground beef (93 percent lean)

1 (14-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

Splash of hot sauce

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, fennel, oregano, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined. Add the ground beef, then mix gently until completely blended. Divide mixture into 50 balls, using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture per ball. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Increase heat to broil and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberry sauce and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

When the meatballs are done, arrange on a platter, then spoon the cranberry mixture over them. Serve with toothpicks.

Servings • 50 meatballs

Source: The Associated Press

Cooking • Trial-and-error leads to cocktail meatballs.
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