This is an adaptation of a recipe in the October/November 2018 issue of Cook’s Country. In addition to eating them separately as an appetizer, I think they would be good with mashed potatoes.
22 squares of Saltine crackers, crushed
1 cup whole milk
2 lbs. 85/15 ground beef
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup hot pepper jelly
1 cup water
½ cup soy sauce
3 Tbs. distilled white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. cornstarch.
Preheat the oven the oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Put a metal rack on the sheet and coat the rack with cooking spray.
Start the meatballs by finely crushing the saltines in a ziplock baggie with a rolling pin. Soak them in the milk for 5 minutes. Mix together in a large bowl the cheese, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Add the cracker/milk mixture and the ground beef. Mix by hand until the dry ingredients, cracker/milk mixture, and ground beef until well blended. Use a 1-inch melon baller to portion the meat mixture into 1 inch meat balls and place them on the rack on the cookie sheet. Roast for 15 minutes and then put the roasted meatballs in the slow cooker.
To make the sauce mix together in a bowl the hot pepper jelly, water, soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. Put half of the sauce in the slow cooker with the meatballs, and cover the other half and put it in the refrigerator. Cook the meatballs in the sauce for 3-4 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low.
When the meatballs are tender, finish the sauce. Add the cornstarch to the reserved sauce mixture in the refrigerator. Heat for 3 minutes in a microwave, stir, and heat another 3 minutes. The microwaved sauce should have the texture of a thick jam. Fold the microwaved sauce into the slow cooker to coat the meatballs. Either serve immediately or hold on low in the slow cooker for 2-3 hours.