Tongue-In-Cheek Meatballs: Blue(berry) Balls
I bet this is one recipe that began (wink, wink) with a name. But whoever had the idea to wrap sweet blueberry muffin in smoky spicy sausage deserves a star on the barbecue walk of fame. The counterpoint of sweet and salty, of smoke and fruit, of meaty and soft is as unexpected as it is brilliant. They were a big hit with students at Barbecue University this past summer. As near as I can tell, these sausage balls debuted at the Wildwood BBQ Bash in Wildwood, Missouri. [After posting, we received word from Shawn & Ben of S&D BBQ, they assert that they invented these meatballs together.]
They’re perfect for brunch, especially served with tangy Blueberry-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce.
(SMOKED SAUSAGE BALLS STUFFED WITH BLUEBERRY MUFFINS)
YIELD: Makes 16 meatballs, enough to serve 4 to 6 as a starter
METHOD: Smoke-roasting (indirect grilling with wood smoke)
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
GRILLING TIME: 30 to 40 minutes
You’ll also need: Meatball grilling basket (optional); 1 1/2 cups hardwood chips, soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes, then drained, or 2 or 4 wood chunks;
toothpicks or small skewers .
Vegetable oil for oiling the grill grate
2 pounds sweet or spicy bulk breakfast sausage
2 blueberry muffins, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Blueberry-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce (optional, see below)
1. Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high.
2. Pinch off 1 1/2-inch pieces of sausage meat and roll each into a ball. Poke a hole in each with your finger and insert a cube of blueberry muffin. Reseal the hole and roll the sausage back into a ball.
3. Brush or scrape the grill grate and oil it well. (If using a meatball grilling basket, oil the meatballs before placing them in the basket.) Arrange the sausage balls on the grill grate away from the heat. Add the wood chips or chunks to coals. If working on a gas grill, place the wood chips in your grill’s smoker box or place the wood chunks directly on the heat diffuser bars.
4. Smoke-roast the blueberry balls until sizzling, bronzed with smoke, and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve on toothpicks or small skewers with the Blueberry Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, if desired.
BLUEBERRY-BOURBON BARBECUE SAUCE
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large shallots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1/3 cup bourbon or grape juice
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, or more to taste
2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries, stemmed
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the shallots, garlic, and jalapeno and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bourbon and cook for 5 minutes. Add the red wine and balsamic vinegars. Stir in the brown sugar, blueberries, ketchup, molasses, coriander, and allspice. Stirring often, cook for 10 minutes, or until the fruit breaks down, to blend the flavors. Add more brown sugar, if desired, for sweetness. Serve warm, or transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for up to a week.