There is something about a meatball that says, “Party!” Except of course if it rolls off the table and out through the door (after a particularly powerful nasal episode.) And sometimes hearing “meatballs” means it’s cloudy out and about to storm in a very unusual but tasty way. (I never saw the Bill Murray movie “Meatballs”… can’t give you anything there.) However, when meatballs are cocktail-sized and set out with some toothpicks at a festive gathering they definitely mean “Party!”
These tasty bites are made with a mixture of sausage, chicken and Cheddar cheese, and then they’re coated in a sweet glaze.
Red pepper jelly plus Vermont maple syrup brings the sweet and just a little more heat. (For even extra heat, the regular sausage can be swapped out for spicy Italian sausage. Caliente!)
Prep these meatballs in advance to make your party day a little easier. After baking and cooling they can be stored in the fridge for a few days or even frozen. Then thaw them, heat them back up with the saucy glaze (glazey sauce?) and they will be ready to go.
Sweet Spicy Meatballs
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 pound bulk sausage or hot Italian sausage
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 4 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup Vermont maple syrup
- 3/4 cup red pepper jelly
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- In a large bowl mix together the egg, milk, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and panko breadcrumbs. Add in the hot sausage and ground chicken. Use your hands to mix the meats together with the egg mixture until everything is fully combined. Add in the shredded Cheddar cheese and mix it in thoroughly.
- Shape the mixture into 1-inch meatballs and arrange them touching on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the meatballs for about 12 minutes until they are just cooked through. Remove them from the oven. Once all the meatballs are baked prepare the sauce.
- In a large pot heat up the maple syrup and the hot pepper jelly over medium heat. Once the jelly is melted and combined with the syrup add in the cooked meatballs. Stir to coat the meatballs with the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook the meatballs in the sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Serve while warm. The meatballs can be kept warm in a crock pot set to low to serve at a party or brunch, or you can poke toothpicks into the tops and set them out on a serving tray.