Baked Spiced Apple Cider Meatballs

These meatballs are sweet and have a great apple flavor. They are perfect as an appetizer, meal, for tailgating or for the cocktail hour. The photo shows them over Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes.” Many of the same ingredients appear in the “meatball” part and the “sauce” part of the recipe. I’ve marked them with an * to make it easier for you to gather the ingredients together one time for the meatballs, sauce, and garnish. Barb L.

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground turkey, chicken, pork, or beef

¾ cup Panko breadcrumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 scallions, root end removed, sliced white and light green parts, and then finely chopped*

½ cup Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated (about ¾-1 apple)

¼ cup apple butter (or if you don’t have it, ¼ cup applesauce with ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice added. Place in the microwave until it begins to bubble)*

¾ tsp allspice

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves – chopped*

1 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste

For the Sauce:

1 cup Hard Apple Cider, more for thinning the sauce, as needed

½ cup apple butter (or if you don’t have it, ½ cup applesauce with ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice added. Place in the microwave until it begins to bubble).*

1 Tbsp Flying Olive Gravenstein Apple or Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 sprig thyme*

Pinch cayenne pepper flakes*

½ tsp salt

A pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Optional for Garnish : Sliced Green Onions*, Thyme leaves or sprigs*, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes*

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up.

Make the meatballs: In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Use your hands or a rubber spatula to gently mix until just combined. DO NOT overmix.

Form the meatballs: Using wet hands to prevent sticking, roll the mixture into golf ball-sized (or any size) meatballs (about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each). If the mixture is too wet, add 1 tablespoon of panko breadcrumbs, at a time to the mix, until it is easier to shape. Transfer meatballs to prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes (more or less for larger or smaller meatballs), or until lightly browned and meatballs are cooked through (165 degrees for turkey).

In the meantime, start to Make the Sauce: In a large skillet combine all the sauce ingredients. Season with salt and a pinch of pepper. Whisk to combine. Place the skillet over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking occasionally. for 6-8 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. Reduce heat to low and add the meatballs. Gently toss to thoroughly coat the meatballs. Add more hard cider to the meatballs if the sauce becomes too thick. I’ve found letting the sauce and meatballs simmer together for 10-15 minutes helps to blend the flavors.

To serve: Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a serving dish and top with optional garnishes.

Submitted by Barb L.