There are a few party recipes that were very popular when I was a kid, and every once in a while I really crave them. Sometimes nothing can compare to a big bowl of Chex Mix (the original recipe, not any of the variations), ripple potato chips with french onion dip, cream cheese topped with chili sauce and crab from a can, or meatballs cooked in a sauce made with grape jelly. It’s this last recipe that I’ve searched for the longest. When I’ve asked people how to make it, it’s always the same answer – one bottle of chili sauce and some grape jelly (amount varies). It’s never quite as good as I remember it as a kid, but maybe it’s because now I’m the one making it. Food always seems to taste better when someone else makes it for you.
I make a lot of meatballs, but the one thing I don’t like about making them is that they can be kind of tedious. So when I found a recipe last year for meatballs that can be cooked in a crock pot and don’t require any pre-cooking, I was thrilled. They were pretty good, but the flavor wasn’t quite what I had in mind. And, the recipe called for 1.5 lbs of ground beef and since the beef in my freezer is in 1 lb. packages, that strikes me as completely inconvenient. To fit the size of the beef packages in my freezer and to bring back that old grape jelly-laden memory, I made a few changes.
These meatballs are darn easy to make and very tasty. Throw some on a plate, grab a pile of toothpicks, close your eyes and you’ll feel like you’re back in 1982.
1 c. grape jelly
1 bottle chili sauce
1 slice white bread
1 lb ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
In a crock pot, mix together jelly and chili sauce. Fill the chili sauce bottle about 1/3 full with water and add to the sauce. Stir until well combined. Set crock pot to low.
In the white bread to a food processor and pulse into crumbs.
In a large bowl, combine beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper. Form into small-sized (about 30) meatballs.
There are two methods for cooking the meatballs:
Slow method: Add the raw meatballs to the crock pot and gently stir to coat with sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally.
Speed method: Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and cook meatballs for 30 minutes at 350° F, turning halfway through cooking. Transfer the meatballs to the crock pot and stir to cover with sauce. Heat on low for at least an hour to allow the meatballs to sauce up.
Estimated calories: 240 cal/serving
Print it: Flashback Meatballs