Did you get too many gingersnaps at your cookie exchange? Did you bake the White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies but not dip them in the chocolate yet? Do you just love gingersnaps and their spicy tangy flavor? Gingersnap meatballs are fantastic year round but they’re an especially good use of leftover ginger cookies around the holidays, even the slightly stale ones at the bottom of your cookie exchange container.
This recipe really is one of my favorites. I’m not a huge meat eater, but this is one of those dinners that I crave. How much do I love this? The night before I went into the hospital to give birth to my son, what did I do? I should have slept. But no, instead I made a big batch of these meatballs to freeze for a treat on one of the (many) nights I was too exhausted from my newborn to cook. Granted in my 9 month pregnant state I’ll admit I ate quite of few of them before freezing but anyway, they’re that good.
The meatballs are fairly standard to start with, ground beef, minced onion, bread crumbs (I use panko), salt, pepper, and some lemon juice and water. I browned them lightly in a skillet then removed them. They still get more cooking time later so they were still a touch pink inside.
The amazing part of these meatballs is their sauce. It’s almost like eating candy! The gingersnap crumbs and brown sugar caramelize and become a thick delicious, almost syrupy, sauce. Combined with the pan drippings from the browned beef, the sauce is unforgettable. After letting the meatballs simmer in the sauce for 15 minutes, they, too, become delightfully sweet. I like to serve these meatballs over pasta as a nice plain contrast to their sweetness. This recipes doubles well, if you want to freeze some for later…that is, if you can keep yourself from eating the leftovers.
A few notes:
-I use panko bread crumbs because they are dairy free. Other plain bread crumbs would be fine as well
-Save time by mincing the onion in a mini food processor. Since you have to grind up the gingersnaps anyway, you’re not adding extra dishes to wash
-It can be a bit challenging to find dairy-free gingersnaps at the store. Check the organic foods section; I usually have better luck there. Or just make your own…
Gingersnap Meatballs (adapted from The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking)
Yield: about 25 1-inch meatballs (serves 4)
1 pound lean ground beef
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 medium onion, minced fine
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons margarine or shortening
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup gingersnap crumbs (approximately 15 gingersnaps)
1. In a large bowl combine the beef, bread crumbs, onion, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and the water. Form into 1-inch meatballs.
2. In a large skillet, heat the shortening on medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook until lightly browned and almost cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the skillet.
3. To the pan drippings in the skillet, carefully add the beef broth and remaining tablespoon of lemon juice (there may be steam) and gently scrape the bottom of the pan to combine the drippings with the liquids. Once it comes to a boil, add the sugar and gingersnap crumbs and stir until combined.
4. Return the meatballs to the skillet and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Then stir gently and simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes. Serve over pasta.