These meatballs are one of those dishes I'm "known" for, which I find hysterical in that "Isn't it Ironic?" sort of way. (Thanks, Alanis.) Because, I really do love to cook and I'm really good at it, and I cook some amazing, elegant things.
These meatballs are not one of those things.
For starters, I don't even make the meatballs. I start with frozen. Oh, sure, I could slave away over a hot stove frying lots of little balls of ground-up animals (oops, my vegetarian is showing - sorry), but why bother?
Why bother, indeed, because the heart of these meatballs is that rich, tangy, barbecue-y sauce. A rich, tangy, barbecue-y sauce that's made out of ... wait for it...
Grape jelly and chili sauce.
No, I'm not even kidding. You dump a jar of chili sauce and a jar of grape jelly over your frozen meatballs in a crockpot and turn it on. A couple of hours later, you have meatballs that your normally-loveable geeky guy friends will literally fight each other over, like snarling, rabid, yet loveable dogs.
I've been making this for probably close to twenty years (for serious), and I've never once had them be anything but a rip-roaring success. A standard size bag of meatballs feeds a crowd as appetizers, though on occasion I have doubled up to serve a really huge party. They are really popular, so better to have too many. (At my last party, some of the guys had huge platefuls of them - it was basically their dinner.) If there are leftovers, you can put them on grilled buns for cool meatball sandwiches.
I have found it's best not to tell people what's in them until after they've had one ... because then they won't care.
Here's the "recipe".
One bag of frozen meatballs (around 50-60 meatballs) - plain or Italian style (your choice)
One 120z. bottle of Heinz chili sauce*
One 15oz (or so...regular size) jar of grape jelly
Pour the frozen meatballs into your crockpot. Don't even bother to thaw them. Pour over the whole jar of chili sauce, followed by the whole jar of grape jelly. I like to smoosh them around with a wooden spoon to "combine" here, mostly because it's nice to feel involved. They won't really combine until they melt, though.
Turn the crockpot on low, and cook for 1-2 hours until the meatballs are heated through and the sauce is combined. You'll want to stir them once or twice to help them along and make sure they're all evenly coated with sauce.
The meatballs will keep on warm for a couple of hours, at least.
Note: Can you make this on the stovetop? Sure. I'd just get a dutch oven, put the ingredients in and heat them up on as low a setting as my stove would go. The crockpot works better, I think, because you can make them before people arrive, then just keep them warm for folks to serve themselves.
*Chili sauce is in a glass jar near the ketchup and such. It looks like this: