SSince the mid-20th century, meatballs have been a staple in cocktails. They’re tasty, satisfying, easy to eat – what’s not to love? A big advantage of meatball is the fact that it can take on a number of flavors, depending on your seasoning choices. Italian-inspired meatballs, “Swedish” meatballs à la IKEA and Tex Mex Meatballs all are among the many possibilities, but one type of meatball has a particularly strong level of nostalgic appeal and crowd-pleasing potential: barbecue meatballs. Here, we outline the best types of ground protein for these treats, the best ways to infuse them with classic BBQ flavors, and a step-by-step guide to making your own batch.
Types of minced meat
The simplest answer to this question is “any type you like”. Meatballs can be made with chicken, turkey, lamb, salmon, or even plant-based “meat” like Impossible Meat or Beyond Meat. That said, Chef Yankel Polak of ButcherBox recommends a specific blend of ground meat for BBQ meatballs: “I always mix equal parts of beef and pork for a combination of sweet flavor from the pork, rich beefy flavor from the ground beef, and fats that give the meatball has a great texture. I always recommend using 100% grass fed beef.”
Maximize BBQ Flavor
To bring the smoky, sweet and savory flavors associated with barbecue into the meatballs, you can choose between two different methods. Perhaps the most popular strategy is to glaze meatballs with (homemade or store bought) Barbecue sauce. “A great barbecue sauce works well,” acknowledges Polak.
If you prefer to use dry spices to season the minced meat, a UK-trained private chef based in Colombia Michael Johnson recommends a mixture of smoked paprika, salt and pepper. When combined with chopped chiles and garlic, fresh herbs, and a touch of mustard, these spices will provide classic barbecue flavors without the stickiness of barbecue sauce.
How to cook meatballs on the barbecue?
Barbecued meatballs are iconic in part because they can be prepared in a variety of ways, depending on your preferences and kitchen setup. Polak tells us about his favorite way to barbecue meatballs: “Toss the meatballs into a cast iron skillet and put it on the grill for a few minutes. [The meatballs] absorb all that smoky flavor. If you don’t have access to a cooktop or grill, you can also cook BBQ meatballs in the oven or in a slow cooker.
What’s wrong with barbecue meatballs and grape jelly?
A Mid-Century Cocktail Snack Recipe So Popular Welch’s Grape Jelly Even include it on their website, barbecue meatballs with grape jelly may seem like a quirky mix of ingredients, but fans of this bite fully vouch for its “weird, but it works” appeal. “They work really well together! The jelly adds just the right amount of sweetness, and the raisins also add a bit of tartness. The sweet and sour combo, with a spicy and smoky BBQ sauce, makes the perfect dumpling glaze. of meat,” says Polak.
- 18 oz minced meat/meat substitute Johnson recommends “good quality pork with good fat content”
- 1 hot red pepper seeded and finely chopped
- 3 Green onions thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon old-style mustard
- 2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- pinch kosher salt or sea salt
- pinch ground black pepper
- pinch smoked paprika
Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and use a spoon or your hands to mix well.
Roll the mixture into 18 equal sized balls.
Lightly coat the balls with olive oil and add them to a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until the inside is cooked through and the outside is crispy.*
Serve on a platter with toothpicks, or serve on a piece of crusty baguette with a smear of mustard and chopped pickles.
*Johnson also points out that you can place the cast iron skillet on a heated grill and cook them that way, which will add an extra level of smoky flavor.