Make Ahead

Sauerbraten meatballs

November 27, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Makes 48 meatballs
Author Notes

For a pretty easy fun holiday dish for an open house this recipe works really well. You can make these well ahead of time and heat in a crock pot for a party. The best way to serve these for a large party is in a shallow chafing dish over a warming plate with lots of toothpicks. The flavors develop nicely overnight, if you can make these a day a head. They also freeze well. You can cut this recipe in half easily if you do not need so many. These are pretty healthy for a party dish, too, and can be kept kosher. I just used gluten-free ginger snaps that worked out really well in this batch. The spices will add a holiday scent to your home. - Sagegreen —Sagegreen

Test Kitchen Notes

I loved these meatballs. The apple flavor came through so well, accentuated by the fennel and rosemary notes. It's also great that the meatballs can be prepared ahead. I recommend doing this for less stress on party day but would suggest making the sauce the day that the meatballs will be served -- I had to thin my sauce out after it chilled and I reheated it to serve the next day.
This is really a dish for an adult affair, my kids (normally adventurous), didn't really like them. The meatballs have a hearty flavor profile that I found very satisfying for a dish for a cold winter's night. They pair very well with beer and hard cider and their high protein content makes them a good choice if alcohol will be served. —epickles

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 ounces ale, pumpkin or amber
  • 6 ounces crushed ginger snaps
  • zest from one lemon, divided in half
  • zest from one orange, divided in half
  • 1 ounce fresh grated and peeled ginger, divided in half
  • 1 tablespoon applesauce, preferably homemade with cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh milled black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed, optional
  • 1 cup turkey broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 6 ounces pumpkin or amber ale
  • 4 ounces applesauce, preferably homemade with cinnamon
  • 4 ounces crushed ginger snaps
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or flour
  • a 1x2 inch piece of pancetta, chopped, optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1 shot calvados
  • sprigs of fresh rosemary, optional
  1. In a large bowl combine the two ground meats. Work in the onions.
  2. Pour 3 oz. of the ale over 6 oz. of the ginger snaps to soften. Then combine with the meat. Add the zest of one half lemon and orange, half the fresh ginger, 1 tbl. applesauce, salt and pepper and optional fennel. Mix thoroughly with clean hands. Roll in your hands to form 48 meatballs, a little under an inch in diameter.
  3. Arrange the meatballs on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until browned.
  4. In a saucepan pour in the turkey broth, cider vinegar, and 6 oz. of ale. Add optional pancetta, 4 oz. applesauce mixed with the cornstarch or flour, 4 oz. of crushed ginger snaps, molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, the other half of the orange and lemon zest and grated ginger, spice, salt and pepper, and a sprig of optional rosemary. Heat the sauce. Add a shot of calvados. Keep warm.
  5. After the meatballs are done in the oven, add them to the sauce and cook for at least another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Although these can be served at this point, you can also let them cool and reheat the next day. These can be served with rosemary sprigs as garnish and toothpicks for a holiday party. For a dinner these are best served over egg noodles or with spaetzle.
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See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • BavarianCook
  • drbabs
  • Lizthechef
  • Sagegreen

8 Reviews

RJ C. January 15, 2020
So disappointing for soooo much effort. Did exactly what the recipe said and, 3 hours later, had mushy meatballs that fell apart in the sauce--which required 3 cups, not 1, to be thin enough to simmer the meatballs in. Very little flavor all around.
Sagegreen January 15, 2020
Sorry this did not work out for you.
BavarianCook January 5, 2014
This was fantastic! I did not have gingersnaps on hand and instead used some leftover "Lebkuchen" (gingerbread from Germany) and it turned out wonderfully. Thank you!!
Sagegreen January 6, 2014
I'm delighted to hear!
drbabs November 28, 2010
I have an old recipe for stuffed cabbage from a friend's mother that also uses ginger snaps--this sounds really good!
Sagegreen November 28, 2010
Thanks, drbabs! Stuffed cabbage with ginger snaps sounds really interesting.
Lizthechef November 27, 2010
You are my kitchen heroine. I remember when you first blew us all away on the cherries theme, I think? Wish we were closer to cook together, Hungarian cousin. Thumbs up!
Sagegreen November 28, 2010
You are my favorite sister! I really wish we could cook together, too. Thank you for all your support!