Asian Sesame Party Meatballs

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These party-perfect meatballs are saucy, tender and bursting with irresistible Asian flavor. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

These party-perfect meatballs are saucy, tender and bursting with irresistible Asian flavor. The bite-size option is ideal as an appetizer while the standard-size can be served over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree. Prep-ahead tips offer built-in convenience.

 

 

Reviewing a cookbook is a task I always enjoy. As I scan the pages, I can often sense the labor of love that underscores every entry. I read each recipe and mark the ones I think my family and readers would enjoy. The following book had no shortage of tagged recipes.

Valerie Brunmeier’s new cookbook, The Foolproof Family Slow Cooker and Other One-Pot Solutions is no doubt a labor of love-and a tasty one at that.

For years, Valerie has written an inviting blog called Valerie’s Kitchen, where she focuses on simple, seasonal home cooking. And as the mom of four grown boys, she has mastered the art of maximizing flavor and substance while streamlining the cooking process.

These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with favorite Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

Beyond our shared role of being a mom of boys, I’ve always felt a certain synergy with Valerie. She’s practical and places equal emphasis on taste and ease of preparation. She knows we aren’t going to cook a recipe if it looks too complex, and her book reflects that.

I chose the following recipe as it can be served as a crowd-pleasing party appetizer or a satisfying family dinner. The Asian-inspired meatballs were an instant hit with my boys, so I’ve made them several times since the initial trial. The repetition allowed me to build on the options that Valerie offered. Accordingly, I’ve added my own prep-ahead tips, an alternate cooking method and size options to Valerie’s time-tested recipe.

The hallmark of these meatballs is delightfully tender meat draped in a flavorful glaze. The Asian flavors (think hoisin, soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger) offer an appealing alternative to the traditional tomato sauce variety, and my family immediately put them on the “make-again list.” And though incredibly tender, the meatballs hold their shape. 👍👍

Typical of Asian cuisine, the sauce is a bold mix of savory and sweet with a hint of heat. Those who enjoy things on the spicier side may easily adjust to taste. And those who enjoy lots of sauce will be happy to know there’s plenty of it, which allows for a seamless leap from party-pleasing appetizer to family-friendly complete meal. My sauce-loving boys have enjoyed the meatballs served over rice with a side of roasted broccoli, drizzling sauce over all.

These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with favorite Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

Valerie uses a higher oven temperature than I typically use for meatballs, and I resisted the temptation to lower it. The higher temperature did, in fact, work well, lightly browning the meatballs and sealing in the juices while cooking out much of the excess fat. If you prefer not to heat your oven to 450℉, however, you may reduce the heat to 400℉ or 425℉ and adjust the cooking time up by 5-10 minutes or until the meatballs are nearly cooked through.

How to achieve consistently sized meatballs:
  • Your first choice is to use a scoop corresponding to the meatball size you prefer.
  • For even more perfect portioning and even cooking, I use my kitchen scale. Simply divide the weight of the meat mixture by the number of meatballs you desire. Then scoop out this amount every single time for uniform balls. (For added ease, weigh the mixing bowl before starting and jot down that number. Then subtract that from the weight once everything is added. After doing this once, you’ll realize how easy it is!)
These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with favorite Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

After rolling the meatballs, they can be baked immediately or covered and refrigerated for several hours.

These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with favorite Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

Baking the meatballs at high heat locks in the flavor while cooking out excess fat.

These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with favorite Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

After the initial bake, the meatballs may be returned to the oven or placed in a slow cooker.

These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with favorite Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

The recipe makes a big batch, and though it could be cut in half, leftovers improve with age. I haven’t frozen the meatballs but wouldn’t hesitate to do so, either before baking or after baking and before adding the sauce.

These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with favorite Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

When rolled into bite-size balls, the following meatballs make a delightful appetizer. When rolled into a slightly larger ball and served over rice (and perhaps with a side of steamed broccoli as we have enjoyed), they become a satiating entrée that rivals good Asian takeout.

These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with favorite Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

Asian Sesame Party Meatballs
Yield: 26-28 regular or 36-40 cocktail meatballs
These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with irresistible Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.
For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup unseasoned panko breadcrumbs (use GF panko or crushed Rice Chex as needed)
  • ⅓ cup grated or minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 heaping teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh black pepper
For the sauce:
  • ½ cup (120ml) hoisin sauce
  • ½ cup (120ml) low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • ½ cup (120g) ketchup
  • ⅓ cup (75g) lightly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (60ml) dry sherry*
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
Optional garnishes:
  • 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds (I lightly toast in a dry skillet to bring out flavor)
  • 1-2 green onions, thinly sliced
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 450℉. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. (When cooking meatballs, I often use parchment instead-no need to grease.)

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a medium-size bowl and set aside. Prep-ahead tip: the sauce may be mixed 2-3 days in advance, covered and refrigerated.

In a large bowl, mix together the meatball ingredients. Helpful hint: I like to mix all of the ingredients except the meat first. Then it’s easier to incorporate the mixture evenly into the meat without overworking. Shape the mixture into 1½-inch balls (for regular meatballs) or 1-inch balls (for cocktail-size), placing them on the prepared baking sheet as you go. Tip: you’ll need to place them fairly close together to fit on the sheet. Bake regular-size meatballs for 15-17 minutes and cocktail size for 10-12 minutes. It’s okay if they aren’t fully cooked through at this point, although they likely will be. Prep-ahead tip: I have covered and refrigerated for several hours before baking. Optionally, you could bake the meatballs, cool and refrigerate. When ready, simply proceed with the recipe.

Slow cooker option: Coat the insert of a 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add the baked meatballs to the cooker and pour the sauce over top. Lightly toss the meatballs with a spoon to evenly coat with the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours or until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is bubbly.

Oven option: Alternatively, you may bake the meatballs in a covered baking dish or Dutch oven. As above, add the meatballs and gently toss with the sauce. With this method, you can cook, covered, for 2 hours at 200℉ or 1 hour at 300℉.

When ready to serve, you may transfer the meatballs to a serving bowl or serve directly from the slow cooker or baking dish. Garnish with the sesame seeds and green onions, if using.

Notes:

*Though I don’t use sherry often, I keep it on hand for use in the occasional recipe. It has the potential to add great flavor, and a bottle will keep for years stored in a cool, dark place. Make sure to purchase a bottle labeled “dry,” and while you want something that’s good enough to drink (even if you don’t drink it plain), you need not spend a fortune.

What size meatballs to make? If serving the meatballs with toothpicks as a passed appetizer or as a part of a buffet, I recommend the smaller size. If you’d like to offer guests something heartier and will be serving with plates and forks, the larger size may be preferred.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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