Every holiday, and sometimes during the year, my mother’s mother, Rose Ridnor would make sweet and sour meatballs, which were scrumptious. I never asked how she made them, although, I know ketchup, sour salt, and sugar played a role. Some recipes call for raisins, grape jelly, Heinz chili sauce, ginger ale, and gingersnaps to achieve the ultimate balance between sweet and sour.
In the thick of Rosh Hashanah, I craved her meatballs, so I thought I’d give it a try. I consulted two cookbooks and used ground chicken instead of ground beef. Plus, I was too lazy to brown the meatballs before adding them to the sauce. In the end, my rendition was darn close to what my grandmother served.
Julie Seat-of-the-Pants Sweet and Sour Meatballs
1 pound of ground meat, preferably beef, but I used chicken
½ cup of breadcrumbs or matzah meal (if the meat is moist, add more)
1 small onion, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon garlic & herb seasoning (garlic, salt, onion, red bell pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, etc.)
Mix and place in refrigerator to absorb the breadcrumbs.
1 can of tomato sauce
½ can of water
¼ cup of white or brown sugar
¼ cup of lemon juice
1 diced onion
Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized pot and simmer for at least an hour. Adjust the taste by adding more sugar or lemon juice.
Shape the meatballs. I made them the size of large cherry tomatoes. Carefully drop some of the meatballs into the sauce so they don’t touch. Let them cook for a couple of minutes until they firm up, then carefully push them off to the side and add a few more meatballs. Repeat by pushing the cooked meatballs off to the size and add more meatballs until all the meatballs are in the pot.
Note: If you fry the meatballs, you can add them all at once to the sauce. Plus, frying the meatballs, ensures they retain their shape.
Cook for at least 30 minutes until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked, and the sauce thickens. Serve in little bowls with crushed matzah to slurp up every tiny drop of the sauce.