Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday season. We had a wonderful Christmas, our first in our new house, and I enjoyed a really relaxing break. I was without a computer for part of it, so it was a great time to unplug. I took a complete vacation from blogging – no posting, photography, or social media and not even very much baking! It was a lovely week of board games, coloring (I got this book for Christmas) and HGTV marathons. I went more than a week without writing a to-do list – which might be a record for me! I’ve been thinking a lot about what 2016 will hold for The Bluenose Baker, which is one of the reasons that I’ve gotten a slow start to the year (that and the fact that I’ve had anything but a slow start to subbing!)
Christmas was more like spring around here, but winter has officially arrived (we’re under a winter storm warning as I write this) and I’m craving comfort food. Meatballs baked in homemade barbecue sauce definitely qualify! These meatballs are a warm, hearty meal, but still a pretty healthy choice.
These meatballs have been a favourite in our meal rotation for several years, and have evolved a lot in the process. They’re a distant descendant of a Pioneer Woman recipe. Since my husband prefers most sauces on the side, I’ve worked a little more flavour into the meatballs themselves. They’re delicious even without the sauce. Speaking of the sauce, it’s an adaptation of an Our Best Bites recipe. I had some leftover in the fridge once after serving it with chicken legs, and tried it on the meatballs. We liked it better than the original sauce, so it was a keeper!
Try these BBQ meatballs for an easy dinner on a chilly night!
For the meatballs, we’ll start with some ground beef. I prefer lean or extra lean for meatballs, to keep them from getting too greasy. Ground sirloin is really tasty if you can find it. We’ve also got some finely minced onion and garlic, chili powder, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and a few cracks of pepper. Quick oats and milk (I use rice milk) bind the meatballs together and keep them moist.
Use your hands to gently combine the meatball ingredients. You don’t want any pockets of chili powder!
Form the meat mixture into balls, using about 1 tablespoon for each. You can do bigger or smaller meatballs if that’s what you like! Put the meatballs on a plate, and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Why are we freezing the meatballs, you ask? Because it helps them to hold their shape while they are browning. Otherwise, we might end up with meatblobs.
While the meatballs are chilling out, we can make the barbecue sauce. You’ll need ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, dry mustard, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and a bit of water.
Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl. Pretty simple!
Now back to the meatballs. Heat a bit of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Take the meatballs out of the freezer, and toss half in the skillet.
Brown them on all sides, then repeat with the rest of the meatballs.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray, and dump the browned meatballs in.
Pour some of the sauce over the top of the meatballs. ¾ to 1 cup is usually enough, depending on how big your dish is and how much sauce you like. Save the remaining sauce to serve on the side. Leftover sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days, and is fantastic on chicken or pork!
If you have picky eaters who don’t like sauces, the meatballs are equally good naked. Just bake until cooked through.
Bake the meatballs until the sauce is bubbling and the internal temperature is at least 165°.
Comfort food at its finest!
Serve the meatballs with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice. Add a green veggie and supper is ready!
Brown rice is our favourite accompaniment – I love to mix the sauce in with my rice.
The perfect winter meal! My husband walked in the door just after I finished taking these photos, and promptly ate it for lunch.
Watch for more winter comfort meals coming up soon on the Bluenose Baker!
- ¾ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup water
- 450 grams (1 pound) lean ground beef
- ¼ cup quick oats
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 – 2 teaspoons canola oil, for browning
For the sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.
For the meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl, mixing gently with hands until combined. Form the meat mixture into 1 tablespoon balls. Place the meatballs on a plate and freeze for 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place half the meatballs in the skillet and sear, turning occasionally, until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the meatballs. Place the cooked meatballs in a 2 L casserole or baking dish. Top with ¾ to 1 cup of the sauce (some sauce will be left over.) Bake the meatballs for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the internal temperature is at least 165°.
Makes about 24 meatballs.