Naomi Ross’s Mom’s Sweet and Sour Meatballs (plus a vegetarian variation)

My husband is quite particular about meatballs–the texture has to be just so. I found this recipe on the blog from Park East butchers and it is a winner. The sauce is not overpoweringly sweet and sour and the meatballs have a texture that is neither too firm nor too mushy. I didn’t measure the chili sauce. I might have used slightly less than the recipe specifies, I will have to figure that out. (update: I used 3 1/2 ounces, which is only very slightly less what the recipe calls for)

I used some meshaper afiya in the meatballs–I think that it helps the meatballs stay moist, but I’m not sure if it really makes a difference.

Naomi Ross (it is her mom’s recipe) says that this recipe is 4-F (family favorite, freezer friendly).

I have a vegetarian meatball recipe–I might try making this sauce for those meatballs also for a pareve option.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Adapted from Naomi Ross

Meatball mixture (c0mbine in a large bowl)–see below for vegetarian meatball variation:

3 pounds ground beef
3 eggs, beaten
¾ tsp. onion powder
¾ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs (I used matzoh cake meal and a crumbled piece of challah, plus a spoonful of meshaper afiyah)
The sauce (heat together in a large pot):

1 (16-oz.) can whole cranberry sauce
1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce
½ cup (4 oz.) chili sauce

Combine the sauce ingredients in a large pot. Heat the sauce while you make the meatball mixture.

Combine the ingredients for the meatballs (ground beef, spices, eggs, matzoh meal). Roll small balls, using 1-2 Tbl. of meatball mixture. Drop the balls as you make them into the sauce in the pot, which should be bubbling hot now. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours.

For the crockpot: I just layered the meatballs and sauce ingredients in the crockpot, set on high. The meatballs cooked, covered, for an hour, and then I gently stirred to separate the meatballs and mix the sauce. This gave a chance for the sauce to get hot and the meatballs to firm up a bit before I gently stirred, being careful to avoid crushing the meatballs. Heating and stirring the sauce first would be better, but this worked out fine.  I cooked the meatballs on high for a couple of hours and then on low for another hour or so.

Edie Barr’s Vegetarian Meatballs
Adapted from my Mom, who adapted from Edie Barr’s recipe in the East Brunswick Hadassah cookbook (1985).
16 ounces tofu, drained and mashed
3 eggs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (flavored or not–you will just need to adjust seasoning accordingly)
1/2 cup minced onion or Tbl. dried
1/2 tsp. dried dill (optional, can use whatever herbs you like)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (optional, you can use whatever herbs you like)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. lemon juice
1 Tbl. oil

Combine, adjust seasonings (before adding the eggs), and shape balls 1 1/2″ diameter. Bake the tofuballs on a greased sheet at 350 degrees until browned, about 10 minutes per side.

I have made these tofu-balls in the past–many times, actually. They are a good vehicle for sauce, but they taste like tofu, not like meat or a meat facsimile. Expect tofuballs, not imitation beefballs.

update: I made these. Here is a tip: season aggressively and DO NOT USE A FOOD PROCESSOR (this makes the mixture too smooth and soft).  Just mash, season well, add eggs, mix, shape and bake. It is easier to get the excess moisture out of the tofu if you freeze and defrost it. It is all spongy when it is defrosted and very easy to squeeze dry. But it is not necessary to freeze and defrost.


2 Responses to “Naomi Ross’s Mom’s Sweet and Sour Meatballs (plus a vegetarian variation)”

  1. Ilana-Davita Says:

    Have you ever tried the vegetarian alternative?

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      I’ve made the vegetarian meatballs before with my mom’s meatball sauce, which is a little different than this sweet and sour sauce. The tofu-balls don’t really taste like meatballs (they are light on the inside and unmistakably tofu), but they are tasty and make a good alternative for vegetarian guests.

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