Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs and Unhealthy Obsessions

I've mentioned before that I have a certain penchant for the less-than-gourmet inventory of a Chinese buffet.  I can't help it- load me up with a variety of dishes coated with several different thick, sweet, and savory sauces and I'm a happy girl.

I can't be trusted in the face of sesame chicken, orange chicken, General Tso's chicken, whatever chicken, or any of those fried tasty bites (I'm looking at you Crab Rangoon...)  with an *ahem* generous serving of sweet-and-sour sauce.
Seriously.  I have problems and I know it.  :-)

The other day I was craving something in that vein when I came across this recipe for Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs.  I already had all of the ingredients on hand (always a plus) and they seemed like the perfect topping for the fairly ridiculous amount of basmati rice I'd made the night before.

-Side note: That rice?  I started by lightly toasting it on the stovetop, then adding a little olive oil, finely diced sweet onion, and garlic and cooking until it was softened.  I added the rice mixture to my boiling water with a little chicken bouillon and it was fabulous.  Definitely try it!-

The meatballs come together quickly and easily, lightly kissed with ginger and onion but overall leaving the heavy lifting to the sauce flavor-wise.  The sauce is delightful if you're a lover of sweet-and-sour sauce, which I obviously am.  It's fairly straightforward, consisting of pineapple and it's juice, brown sugar, a little soy sauce, white vinegar, and a touch more ginger.

We already know that I have a thing for pineapple.
I've seriously been known to order a 5 topping pizza and make 4 of the toppings pineapple.
I mean...it's been a few years.  But it's happened.
(Yes, seriously.)

So between the thick, delicious Asian-y sauce and my affinity for all things pineapple- well, this was a match made in Heaven in my book.  The thickened sauce is combined with carrots and bell pepper (I used red bell pepper simply because of our personal preferences) and mixed with the meatballs.  I can see the addition of a few red pepper flakes or possibly some coarsely chopped onion being a nice addition to the sauce, but honestly my family enjoyed this dish just as it was.

I made several meals out of the leftovers and I still can't wait to make this again.  It was lovely served over that basmati rice with an egg roll on the side, however it could easily be served as a warm appetizer for a party or game day!

For the meatballs:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1/2 C dry bread crumbs
1/4 C finely chopped onion
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp granulated sugar

For the sauce:
1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained with juice reserved
1/3 C water
3 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 C packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1 large carrot, diced small
1 large bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a large, shallow baking sheet.  In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, onion, ginger, seasoning salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and sugar. Shape into one inch balls.  Place meatballs in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes; set aside.

2. To make the sauce, mix enough water with the reserved pineapple juice to make 1 cup. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the juice mixture, 1/3 cup water, vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar, ginger and seasoning salt.  In a small bowl mix together cornstarch and 3 Tbsp water.  Whisk cornstarch slurry into hot juice mixture until liquid is smooth and beginning to thicken.  Cover and cook until thickened, stirring often.

3. Stir pineapple chunks, carrot, bell pepper, and meatballs into the sauce. Gently stir to coat the meatballs with the sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until meatballs are thoroughly cooked and carrots are soft.

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