Chances are, if you’ve been to a church potluck, game day gathering, family function, holiday party, or any other festive affair, you’ve either eaten or made slow cooker cocktail meatballs. While we can’t congregate with family and friends like we used to, it is still fun to enjoy these treats with a smaller group. Inspired by Natalie Keng and her sauces at Chinese Southern Belle, these are homemade meatballs that take advantage of an unlikely Southern ingredient – fresh, local, seasoned pan sausage. We’ve married Natalie’s Sweet Chili Peach sauce with Carroll’s mild pan sausage to create a Chinese-inspired meatball, but one that is just as delicious and still suited to a slow cooker or multipot.
Note: Shaoxing (also spelled “xiaoxing” or “shao hsing”) cooking wine is an aged rice wine used in Chinese cuisine, found at any Asian or international market for just a few dollars. This ingredient is essential to giving many Chinese dishes their deep, complex flavor that you might be missing at home if you like to cook Chinese food, and so it is highly recommended, but in a pinch, you can use cooking sherry. Learn more about this ingredient, and other Chinese ingredients, here.
Yield: 25 – 30 meatballs, about 6 servings
- 1 pound mild pan sausage
- ¼ cup finely chopped scallion, about 2 large scallions or 4 small ones
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- ½ cup cooked rice
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Xiaoxing cooking wine or cooking sherry
- Black pepper, about ½ teaspoon
- 2 teaspoons canola oil, for browning
- 1 cup Chinese Southern Belle Sweet Chili Peach sauce (for a sweeter glaze), or Soy Ginger Vidalia sauce
- 1 tsp corn starch
- Thinly sliced scallion, for garnish
- Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly to combine. Shape into ¾ ounce – 1 ounce balls, place on a baking sheet, and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Place the cornstarch into a bowl large enough to hold two cups, then whisk 1 tablespoon of Sweet Chili Peach sauce into the cornstarch so there are no lumps. Whisk in the rest of the sauce into the cornstarch mixture, then set aside.
Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown meatballs in one layer, or in batches on two sides, about 10 minutes. Add sauce mixture, toss meatballs, and bring to a boil for about 1 minute, then lower to a simmer, cover and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes. Toss again with the thickened sauce. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle with thinly sliced scallion and toasted sesame seeds. Serve hot, with toothpicks if desired.
Slow-Cooker or Multipot
If using a slow cooker or multipot, first brown the meatballs in a skillet or with the multipot’s sauté function, pour the sauce mixture over the meatballs in the cooking vessel, cover, and set to the slow cook function or low on the slow cooker and cook for 3 hours.