Dora’s Cocktail Meatballs


Stax kept us in the realm of appetizers for this week’s cooking sesh, though that’s not too surprising since Stax loves snacks.

Aunt Dora was the younger sister of my Grandma and was a DiBattista before she was a DiPompeo. (suuuuper Italian)

There are some pretty amazing stories that followed her through life: Meeting the pope, being an assistant to the head of Streets and Sanitation in Chicago, and wearing pearls and a black dress to a picnic in the park.

She made the Sunday gravy for our family dinners and made some of my favorite Italian meals, but she was also a great all-around cook (Her daughter has inherited this trait) which is shown in this recipe.

I love these cocktail meatballs because it combines her traditional cooking with an all-American recipe from the 1950’s…I mean, it uses grape jelly in the sauce but has freshly chopped garlic in the meatballs…it’s a wild ride.

I honestly didn’t remember these meatballs until I ate one…and then it all came back to me…it was honestly a surprise and made me so happy.

In the end, this recipe turned out to be really special.



  • 1lb Ground Beef
  • 1lb Ground Pork
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • salt and pepper


  • 10 oz chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup grape jelly
  • Juice of one lemon

If you’ve made it this far that means you haven’t been scared off by the grape jelly, which is good cause it’s surprisingly delicious.

Mmmmmkay, balls of meat.


Put your beef and pork in a large mixing bowl and add the eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic and salt & pepper.

Don’t forget the water, it helps to bind the fats in the meat and helps to keep your balls intact.



Be sure to take off any rings or band-aids before getting your hands in there, no one likes a surprise in their meatball.

Mix it up and make sure the beef and pork are combined as evenly as possible.


Roll the meatballs out to be cocktail sized (I shot for a ping-pong ball for mine) and brown them in a pan. Once you’ve got all the meatballs browned on both side, just put them to the side until the sauce is done.

Now, for the 1950’s era sauce.

I was not kidding about the grape jelly

As you can imagine…this part is really simple:


Yes, just put it all in a bowl and whisk it up. It will taste a bit sweet, but that mellows out after you finish cooking the meatballs in the sauce. If you’re really not into it, then add the juice of one half a lemon.


Pop the meatballs back into your pan with the sauce, or throw it into a slow cooker for a few hours and then eat. You’re really only looking to cook the meatballs all the way through, but the longer they can simmer in the sauce the better.

When you’re done, you’ll hopefully get something like this!

These are definitely best served from the crock-pot with toothpicks, but Stacey helped me set up her camera so I got fancy.

This was a great recipe for me. I loved cooking with the familiar and unfamiliar ingredients and it brought me back to the two flat on Oak Park Ave where we shared so many meals.

Who knew cocktail meatballs could turn out to be so lovely.

Kisses yall.

Mess Hall

toddagarcia View All →

I’m an acting/improvising optimizing son of a gun.

I’ve been living and working and performing in Chicago since 2005. I love to eat, travel, talk and make people laugh. So for me this blog stuff is pretty neat.

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