Happy Canada Day!! I know, I know, meatballs have nothing to do with Canada Day, but I swear after I make something appropriately Canadian this afternoon, I’ll show it to you tomorrow. 😉
I made these for a going away party for my friend and her littles before they left California last week and they were a serious hit. Usually I take a pot luck as an opportunity to test out a recipe I’ve bookmarked for later. Ok, pinned for later. Does anyone really bookmark anymore now that Pinterest has taken over the internet? Anyhoo, instead of doing that, I opened the cupboard and saw a can of green chilies that I had mistakingly bought for a recipe from the new Pioneer Woman cookbook (I was supposed to get chipotle peppers in adobo sauce whoops, big diff). After setting the can of chilies on the counter, I kept poking around in there to see what else wanted to leap into these meatballs. I spied a pouch of ranch powder that I had used half of in a ‘ranch burger’ experiment a few days before (the experiment went very well, thanks for asking) and decided to use that too. I already knew I wanted to serve the meatballs in a barbecue sauce and when I do that I like to have a little taste of the sauce in the meatball itself so I also used a squirt of the base hickory barbecue sauce and mustard to make sure it wasn’t too sweet.
The final meatballs included the usual onions and garlic but I also used a couple of small shallots to mix it up a little, paprika and a healthy dose of chili power. And salt and pepper, duh.
The sauce is a very simple little combo I learned from my dad years ago that will give you so many different flavors depending on what combination you use. equal parts barbecue sauce and chicken stock! Voila! You’ll want to adjust that depending on how thick your base barbecue sauce is, and of course how thick you want your finished sauce to be. With all the different ways to make barbecue sauce (vinegar, whiskey, hickory, brown sugar, molasses etc etc etc), and all the different ways to make chicken stock (endless combinations of spices to be spicy or sweet, different flavors from strictly chicken bones to whole carcasses and veggies etc etc) make it a very versatile sauce for meatballs. I’ve used it with meatballs made from pork, beef, chicken and turkey and they all were total winners! Honestly, they are even better the next day!
3lbs ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 small shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 tablespoons hickory barbecue sauce (or whatever)
1 11 oz can green chili peppers
2 tablespoons mustard
1/2 package ranch powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
|Sauce: (for simmering and serving)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups hickory barbecue sauce
Get right in there and use your hands to mix up the ground beef with the onions, shallots and garlic. Add and mix in the barbecue sauce, green chili peppers, mustard and egg. Then add the ranch, paprika, chili power, salt and pepper and of course, the breadcrumbs. Mash it all up until it holds together, adding more breadcrumbs if you need to.
Roll them into cute little meatballs and arrange them on a parchment lined baking sheet. I think the smaller the meatballs the better (without them being clearly too small, ahem), because they will cook quickly and evenly in the oven, allowing more time to soak up the sauce they’ll simmer in later. Also because if you make twice as many small meatballs as big ones, more people will have a chance to taste them and go back for more. 😉
I warmed up the chicken stock and whisked the barbecue sauce into it and then plunked my finished meatballs in the sauce to simmer a while. My husband and Wee One #1 were in the kitchen, loitering (as they do when they smell something good happening), and they each wanted to taste one. Of course, I obliged, but assumed the weird ranch + hickory + green chili peppers combo would be dismissed as ‘too weird’. I was way mistaken. Way. First my husband said he wasn’t sure if he was ok with me taking them to the potluck and then our son was all ‘omg they’re not for us?’ haha. Sorry kid, but I swear I’ll make them again just for you guys!