These chicken meatballs should really be called sweet, sour and spicy because I banged up the flavor with some red pepper and cayenne (we love the combination of sweet and spicy…if you do not, please do omit the peppers!) The meatballs have a beautiful complex set of flavors that compliments the sauce very nicely.
For the meatballs- Ingredients:
- Ground chicken- I chose chicken because I didn’t want to overpower the flavor of the sauce.
- Chinese Five Spice Powder– an easy way to add a pow of Chinese flavor
- Sesame Seeds and Sesame oil- just a little of the oil. It goes a long way but adds a depth of flavor
- Watkins Chicken Base- increases the umami
- Panko bread crumbs and an egg- Panko has a light flavor and texture and between the 2 they help bind the meat
- Maggi Seasoning– also increases the umami
- Dried onion and garlic powder- also contributes to umami
- Finely diced green onion
- Ginger because…YUM
- Crushed red peppers- if you like it spicy like we do!
This is pretty easy. Combine everything and cook. This can be done the day before (and in fact the meat will feel pretty wet when it’s combined, but overnight the Panko soaks up the liquid, making them easier to roll into meatballs).
Form into meatballs and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit pre-heated oven for 11 to 12 minutes, just enough to set the outside. The rest of the magic happens in the sauce!
For the sauce ingredients:
- Ketchup. Yup I said it. Sweet and sour sauce isn’t really a traditional Chinese sauce, it’s more of an American invention, and a friend whose family owns a Chinese restaurant verified this for me. The Hunt’s Natural is the best commercial ketchup I’ve ever had (sorry Brooks, it’s just better)
- Pineapple with juice
- Vinegar. I used cider but you could use white as well
- Soy sauce. Use the good stuff!
- Corn starch does the heavy lifting of thickening the sauce
- More peppers! Again, omit if you’re not a spicy person!
Add cornstarch to the water, and add remaining ingredients. Turn the heat to medium and cook until translucent, this should take about 10 to 15 minutes. If you’re lazy like me (or really, multi-tasking) set it to low and let it go 20 to 30 minutes, checking ever so often.
Again, the sauce can be made in advance, I made it 2 days ahead of time.
For the finished dish:
Add the par-cooked meatballs to the pan over medium heat and cook until they’re firm, about 20 minutes. Again, I started low and had a cocktail so mine were more like 30 minutes. Either way works!
Cut up some veggies…here I used Bermuda onion, peppers, and celery but you could do carrots too!
Add the veggies to the pot and stir. Cover and cook until the veggies are to your desired doneness. We like them crunchy so I did about 10 minutes covered.
And serve with rice…
IF YOU LIKE THIS RECIPE YOU WILL ALSO LIKE:
- Instant Pot Meatballs With Mushroom Gravy
- Instant Pot Triple Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Johnny Marzetti
- Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Chicken Tetrazzini
- Half-healthy Zucchini Lasagna
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
For the Sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
- ⅔ cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes to taste (these are spicy. Omit if you do not like spice)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste (these are spicy. Omit if you do not like spice)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
For the Meatballs
- 1 pound extra lean ground chicken
- 2 tablespoons dried onion
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon chicken base
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon Five Spice powder
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoons Maggi sauce
- ⅓ cup skim milk
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 finely chopped green onions
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
For the final dish
- ½ cup chopped Bermuda onion
- ½ cup chopped orange red and yellow peppers
- ½ chopped celery
For the meatballs
- Combine ingredients and mix well. Cook in preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for ~11 to 12 minutes, just enough to make the outside sturdy.
For the sauce
- Add cornstarch to water and stir. Add remaining ingredients and cook on medium heat until sauce thickens and becomes clear (about 10 minutes).
For the dish
- Add the par-cooked meatballs to the sauce and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until they’ve firmed up, turning once. Add the vegetables and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they’re done to your liking, we prefer them to be crisp.