The dishes that welcome meatballs are numerous. Spaghetti, all covered with cheese, is one. Subs are another. Rice and rice noodles clock in third and fourth. We’ve got skewers that hold meatball-like kebabs, and we’ve got soup: Italian wedding. This list eventually goes on and on, but today I’d like to add a too often overlooked seventh entry, which is the appetizer spread.
A long time ago, using what I think was an Arthur Schwartz recipe that now I can’t find and an impulse I don’t completely remember, my family served appetizer meatballs at some event. Their ingredient list was short. They were baked. I think we put a dipping sauce in a bowl next to the plate on which we arranged the meatballs once they were out of the oven. They went fast.
Here are the perks of an appetizer meatball for you: you can make the meatball mix and form balls ahead of time, and no matter how rudimentary your arranging skills, appetizer meatballs will look good on a plate. For your guests, these are great because they’re filling but not actually indulgent, a bite that lands happily in the middle of the crudité and the coconut shrimp. All of this is to say that you should overlook appetizer meatballs no more.
Now that you’re convinced, I’m going to tell you that your meatballs on toothpicks don’t have to be Italian in flavor profile. The ones I made take their cue from Southeast Asia, and so fragrant Thai basil, drops of fish sauce, and splendidly tasty SWEEET & Spicy Tabasco® give a base of ground pork its divine savor. For dipping, I made a Sriracha mayo (Tabasco makes a killer Sriracha), but you could also treat these like wrapper-less dumplings and opt for your favorite tangy-soy sauce (like this one).
This post is sponsored by Tabasco as part of TABASCO® Tastemakers program. Check out my previous two Tabasco-focused BGSK recipes: Chipotle Pecans and Crispiest Fish with Tabasco Butter. All opinions, as always, are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors who keep BGSK delicious!
- 1 pound ground pork
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh Thai basil or regular basil or cilantro
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon TABASCO® SWEET & Spicy Sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sriracha
- Combine all the ingredients. Turn on the boiler and place a rack at the top of the oven. Shape the meatballs into spheres 1 inch in diameter and set on a baking sheet.
- Broil the meatballs for 4 minutes, then use tongs to flip them over and broil another 4 minutes on the second side.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the mayo and 1 tablespoon of sriracha. Add more sriracha to taste, until you've reached the desired degree of spiciness.
- Arrange the meatballs on a plate and stick toothpicks into them. Serve the sauce on the side.