Ok, this might be a little late, but I figure it’s still the season to eat cranberries!! If you like cranberries and if you like meatballs….I’m pretty sure you will like this tasty meal! I have kids who happen to love both (oh, wait, someone inexplicably doesn’t like cranberries, so we just scraped the sauce off for her, one out of 6 isn’t bad) so it was a recipe that got rave reviews! I haven’t made it for years, but every Christmas, I think about it. Finally, for our (late) New Year’s celebration, I decided that I was going to make these festive meatballs, then realized that I don’t even have the recipe….so I had to call Mom. I’m not sure where the recipe comes from, but years ago our church served these meatballs several times and we both asked for the recipe (I just didn’t realize that I had lost mine).
Here’s the recipe followed by my observations,
Christmas Cranberry Meatballs
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 envelope of onion soup mix
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsely
Mix all ingredients together and shape into meatballs and place on a foil-lined tray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix up the sauce.
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (the kind with some sauce/jelly and the whole berries, not just the jelly)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 tsp. finely chopped onions
Mix sauce ingredients together, heat and pour over meatballs before serving.
That’s the recipe as-is. I always end up doing some substitutions, because I rarely have the exact ingredients on hand. I didn’t have the envelope of onion soup mix, so I looked it up online and the home-made version is mostly just dried onion flakes and beef bouillon and some seasoned salt, so I did that instead….lots of flaked onion! And for some reason, I had it in my mind that the sauce included Russian dressing, and I did have that on hand so just had to use it, so I substituted it for the tomato sauce. I’m sure that in the end I used more ground beef than the recipe says, so I just kind of eye-balled everything else. The meatball mixture didn’t seem to need an egg, but I’m sure that if you did add one it should be fine (I didn’t). It’s probably a good idea to really mince the parsely super fine, (I didn’t and the large leaves of parsely were very obvious in the meatballs, but we didn’t mind). The meatballs are slightly chunky-looking, but you don’t notice it that much with the sauce on. The recipe says to just heat the sauce, but I actually simmered it a bit and put the meatballs from the oven into the sauce for a little simmer. Obviously this recipe made enough to feed 6 people here, but I can’t say exactly how many it would feed at your house, I guess it depends on the size of the meatballs and the hunger of your group!
Every time we eat meatballs I get quizzed “did you make these yourself or are they from the store?” haha!! The funny part is that it doesn’t seem to matter what the answer is, they always gobble them all up. My answer’s about half the time home-made and half the time store-bought. I find that I don’t like those “italian style” frozen meatballs, but everyone else does. I need to make an effort to make them from scratch more often! Then you know exactly what’s in them! I haven’t tried making meatballs with rice in them, should try that…. Have you tried making meatballs in Italian wedding soup? That’s another almost-favorite around here.