Ringing in the New Year with Fancy Meatballs

When I was a kid, my parents never went out on New Year’s Eve. Not once. They never had people over, either—it always was just the six of us. They’d let us kids stay up until midnight (if we could). We’d blow on noisemakers and feast on cocktail weenies in sweet-and-sour sauce, frozen hors d’oeuvres in puff pastry, mini-knishes, and the highlight of the night: Fancy Meatballs. The meatballs were fancy for two reasons: 1. because they’re in an exotic, dark, slightly sweet sauce; and 2. because we only ate them once a year, from a round, royal blue Dansk chafing dish that as far as I knew, only ever held meatballs.

Tonight S and I will be continuing my family’s grand tradition of not going out on New Year’s Eve. In a little while, I’ll get started making the meatballs. We don’t have a chafing dish (who does, anymore?), but I bet they’ll taste just as good. At midnight, we’ll eat them with toothpicks, sip champagne leftover from our wedding, and kiss for the beginning of our first calendar year as married people. Assuming I’m still awake, that is…

Happy New Year, everyone!

[Psst! If you haven’t already voted in the 2004 Food Blog Awards, better act fast—the polls close at midnight tonight, PST! Words to Eat By is a finalist for Best New Blog. Click on over and vote for all your favorites, before it’s too late.]

Sweet & Tangy Cocktail Meatballs

2 lbs. lean chopped meat [I’m using buffalo/bison]
1 onion, chopped
1 can whole cranberry sauce
½ cup chili sauce
½ cup water
1 T. dark brown sugar
¼-1/2 c. golden raisins

[My mom always mixed 2 packets of G. Washington Brown seasoning into the chopped meat. I don’t have any, so I’ll make my own concoction with dried garlic, onion, etc.]

Shape meat into small meatballs, about ½” diameter each, and set aside.

Sauté onions in a frying pan for a few minutes. Drain off all the liquid from the onions, then sauté meatballs for a few minutes. [This step is optional; if you want a lower-fat recipe then skip to the next step.]

Mix all the other ingredients, and put in the bottom of a Dutch oven or casserole dish. Put the meatballs and onions into the sauce, and gently mix; cover with water to the top of the meatballs.

Either cook over slow flame for 2 hours, or bake, at 300-325F, for about 2 hours.