When I was a kid I spent every summer working on 4H projects. Not so much raising horses or chickens, though we did do dog and cat care and spent time at the farm running away from the chickens, but a lot of home projects, particularly in cooking. As I got older I started participating in State Contest, which is a 4H program where you create a presentation about an ingredient or skill, including making a recipe during the presentation and answering questions. It’s where I learned a lot of my demonstration skills and how not to panic, mostly, under pressure.
I also learned that asking the question back to the judges is not a good way of getting out of not remembering something. Oops. I only ever did that once and thereafter was a much more gracious teenager.
Anyway…where this is leading is to Sweet and Sour Meatballs. This recipe was one that Mom and I put together when I was Utah’s 4H Beef Ambassador. It’s easy to make the meatballs that day, or premake them and freeze them until you’re ready to make up the sauce and serve.
As well the sauce itself is killer if you want to go vegetarian, just add steamed broccoli, carrots and peas. This recipe is gluten free, though you’ll want to check your soy sauce as some few use malt as a colorant which causes a reaction in some people.
These are a favorite for appetizers, or when you just really want a fresh dish of meatballs over rice. For me they’ll always put me in a little kitchen in Louisville, Kentucky hoping that I can remember everything I memorized and that I won’t fall over in front of the panel of judges.
SWEET AND SOUR MEATBALLS
1 lb. ground beef (ground turkey or chicken is good too.)
2 T. ULTRA GEL
2 T. dried chopped onion
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. vinegar
1/2 c. water
1 small can sliced water chestnuts
4 T. ULTRA GEL
1-2 bell peppers, cut into chunks
Combine ingredients for meatballs gently. DO NOT OVERMIX. Shape into 1″ meatballs and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until centers are no longer pink. Remove meatballs to baking pan.
Meanwhile drain pineapple and set aside, reserving juice. Combine reserved pineapple juice, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and water in mixing bowl. Add ULTRA GEL gradually, stirring with a wire whisk. Add green peppers, pineapple and water chestnuts. Pour sauce over meatballs and bake for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees until peppers are crisp-tender.
Serve over hot cooked rice.