Cranberry Chipotle Meatballs
I made this recipe because a friend of mine from work came to me and said she had this grass-fed ground round that she was having NO luck with whatsoever, so she asked if she could bring some of it to me and see if I could make something edible out of it. She complained that whatever she made with this particular meat, it always came out watery. She tried making tacos with it, and meaty sauce, and I’m not sure what else, but nothing seemed to turn out right.
We had an appetizer potluck at work and I decided I needed to make something with her ground meat. I was leary of the watery character of this meat, though, so I decided meatballs would be the thing to make–bake them first, so if any excess water was to seep out of the meat, it would either get soaked into the “extras” in the meatballs or be left on the tray before I doused them in sauce.
It worked like a dream, even without breadcrumbs (my friend is gluten free, so I used rice and crushed rice chex), although there were some juicy puddles on the baking sheet after the meatballs baked. I used my tongs to take the meatballs off to their bath in the sauce and then gave my kitties the baking sheet. They cats eagerly lapped up those meat juices–it was so fun to watch! And then the humans got the joy of eating the meatballs, which were quite good doused in thick, rich cranberry chipotle BBQ sauce. I actually used a couple different BBQ sauces I found in my fridge, so whatever BBQ sauce you love (store-bought or homemade), go ahead and use it in this recipe. The cranberries add a bit of tartness and the chipotle adds some heat, so it all melds together nicely.
- 2 lb. lean ground beef (or other lean ground meat--I used grass-fed ground round)
- 1 small onion, peeled & chopped into chunks
- 3 - 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3/4 cup cooked rice
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 cup crushed Rice Chex cereal
- 2 Tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce (I used this recipe, without the walnuts, although I think this one would work well too)
- 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
- 1/4 - 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Put the ground meat in a medium mixing bowl.
- In a small chopper or food processor, chop up the onion, garlic, rice, dried cranberries, and ginger root into fine bits. Stir this mixture into the meat, mixing well. Add the salt, cloves, Rice Chex, yogurt and eggs. Mix together with your hands until everything is well mixed. Form the meat mixture into 1-inch balls and set on the baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 15 - 18 minutes or until browned on top and completely cooked inside.
- Meanwhile, mix the cranberry and barbecue sauce with the chipotle powder. If serving immediately, heat the sauce. When the meatballs are done, put them in a crockpot and pour the sauce over. Keep on the warm setting to serve.
If making ahead of time, set the sauce aside until the meatballs are done. Put the meatballs into a container and pour the sauce over. Cover and refrigerate. Warm the meatballs in the microwave, then gently place them in the crockpot (taking care not to break them) and pour the remaining sauce over top. Heat the crockpot on high for 1 - 2 hours, then turn to the warm setting.
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