Cocktail Meatballs and Kielbasa

December 31, 2013

It’s been a month and a half since my last post… I suppose I could make an excuse for the silence, like the busy-ness of the holidays or some such. Honestly I’ve had the time to write, I just haven’t felt like I had much of anything interesting to say. I don’t know if it’s lingering effects of the mono, or just the fact that it’s so dark all the time, but I haven’t felt like doing much of anything lately. I’m hopeful that now that I’m finished with holiday obligations, I’ll be able to find a little more energy and motivations for the activities I enjoy. I’m certainly still cooking; we’ve got to eat! How about starting with some party appetizers?

My husband and I hosted our first Christmas open house party back in 2006, before we were even engaged. It’s become an annual tradition for us, and it quickly became one of my favorites. It’s the only time of year when we have a lot of people over at once (we’re usually the types to have one other couple over for dinner, very casual), and it’s a perfect excuse to make a ton of finger foods. Appetizers are some of my favorite foods to make, but since we rarely have dinner parties, I don’t have many occasions to serve them. I really should remedy that this coming year. In fact, I think I’ll make that my New Year’s resolution: host a more formal dinner party for 6 (or 8) twice in 2014.

These meatballs and kielbasa are perfect for an open house because they can be made ahead of time and kept warm in a slow cooker for the duration of the party. The recipe also makes a large quantity, so unless you have 50 people in your house, you’re not likely to run out. The sauce is sharp and tangy-sweet, a delicious mixture of ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, and Worcestershire. These have been a bit hit for three years in a row, so I don’t have any plans to take them off the menu any time soon. Enjoy!

Cocktail meatballs and kielbasa

Recipe can be made through step 4 and refrigerated (sauce and meatballs separately), tightly covered, for up to 2 days. Bring sauce to simmer before continuing with step 5.

Serves 20



  • 2  slices high-quality white sandwich bread
  • 1/3  cup buttermilk
  • 3/4  pound 80% lean ground beef
  • 1/4  pound ground pork
  • 1/4  cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2  tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1  large egg yolk
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon pepper

Kielbasa and sauce:

  • 1  pound kielbasa, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 2  cups ketchup
  • 1  cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2  cup water
  • 1  tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1  tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt
  • Tabasco


  1. Make the meatballs: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove and discard crusts from bread, then tear bread into small pieces. In a large bowl, mash the bread and buttermilk into a smooth paste using a fork.
  2. Add the beef, pork, Parmesan, parsley, yolk, garlic, salt, and pepper to mashed bread. Stir gently until combined and uniform. Form the mixture into ¾-inch balls (you will have about 70 meatballs).
  3. Spread the meatballs out in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Cook the kielbasa in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, water, mustard, Worcestershire, and garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and Tabasco to taste. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately, or keep warm in a crockpot for up to 4 hours.

One comment

  1. It looks and sounds great. Happy New Year! ~James

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