When the manager of our department announced he’d be leaving, it was decided that we’d have a special potluck luncheon to send him off. With 22 people to serve, I thought long and hard about what the best dish would be to bring. I decided on meatballs because they’re filling, flavorful, popular–and after eating them, people feel a lot more satisfied than if all they’ve had is a pile of chips, veggies, dip, and desserts.
The meatballs were a hit–with my mother and son, as well as with my coworkers. The sauce I developed for this recipe has a nice balance of sweet and spicy–though you could always add some extra red pepper flakes, if, like me, you’re a true fan of a nice bite in your meatballs!
Check out the NESCO 6-Quart Stainless Steel Roaster on Amazon.com.
Meatball recipes can be completely homemade–but this isn’t one of those recipes. This recipe is designed to be quick and easy for the person who wants to whip up something delicious and impressive, but simply doesn’t have much time. For those of you in that situation, this recipe will be a Godsend.
I used my NESCO Professional Roaster for this recipe. (You can get the same model NESCO Roaster Oven I’ve got, complete with non-stick interior, on Amazon.com for an excellent price.) If you prefer, you can cook these meatballs in a regular crock pot–but the NESCO has certain benefits over a regular crock. First, while standard slow cookers have only a couple of settings–low (176 degrees) and high (194 degrees), and sometimes a warm setting–the NESCO has a dial-type temperature setting know that ranges from 150 degrees to 400 degrees. This feature is idea for reheating a batch of meatballs (or anything else you’ve cooked) because you can set the temperature higher to reheat quickly, then turn the temperature back again once the food has reached the desired temperature. (I reheated my meatballs this way at the office luncheon I mentioned earlier, and it worked awesomely.)
Prep Time: up to 30 minutes, if frozen meatballs are used
Cook Time: 3 hours
Servings: about 28 (6 meatballs per serving)
- 84 ounces meatballs, fully cooked
- (2) 15-ounce cans chili, no beans
- 32-ounce jar grape jam
- 4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 T dried oregano
- 28-ounce can tomato puree
Instructions for Preparing Meatballs:
Meatball prep–for pre-made, store bought meatballs
You won’t have to worry about this step if you made your meatballs from scratch. But if you didn’t, this step is pretty important to improve the texture of your finished product. Broiling adds a bit of smokey flavor, a better texture, and allows some of the grease in the meatballs to escape before you add them to your slow cooker / NESCO roaster oven.
- Preheat over to HIGH broiler setting.
- Arrange frozen meatballs on a broiler pan.
- Broil meatballs until golden brown, about 6.5 minutes. Be careful to monitor closely during broiling, as meatballs will darken very quickly once they’ve reached the right temperature.
- Turn meatballs over and broil until second side is golden brown, about 1.5 additional minutes.
Making the Meatball Sauce and Cooking the Meatballs
- In a large bowl, mix together chili, jam, oregano, red pepper flakes, and tomato puree. Heat at 200 degrees in NESCO roaster oven.
- As meatballs come out from under the broiler and carefully add them to the pot, making sure to replace the cover after each addition. When all meatballs have been added, set the timer to 3 hours.
- Stir meatballs regularly, spooning sauce over the top to ensure good flavor circulation.
- When meatballs are done, serve immediately or allow to cool and refrigerate as soon as possible. If you have a NESCO roaster oven, you can simply replace lid and refrigerate the whole removable cookwell, saving you the time of looking for a separate storage container.