Pineapple Pork Meatballs – simply seasoned all pork meatballs in an easy to prepare, sweet and sour pineapple sauce. Delicious served over rice or thin Chinese noodles.
This pineapple pork meatballs recipe is a real 70’s and 80’s throwback for me. We made a version of this many times when I was growing up. Back then, the sweet and sour sauce was most likely ketchup based, and the meatballs probably made from regular ground beef. It was a dinner that I always liked, although green peppers were most often used in the sauce back then. Regular readers of Rock Recipes may have already guessed that I am not a fan of cooked green pepper. I enjoy them raw in salads but they have too strong a flavour for me when cooked; I actually despise them in pepper steak or on pizza. It just ruins it for me.
In updating this recipe I’ve ditched the green pepper for sweet red pepper, used a fresh golden pineapple instead of the tinned we used years ago, replaced the ketchup for Hoisin sauce, added a little chill paste for heat plus some Chinese 5 spice powder for flavour and used all pork in the meatballs. This fusion connects Hawaiian and Asian flavours that work particularly well together. We served it last night over some simple steamed rice and the whole family finished their plates.
One thing I always recommend when making meatballs is to make a double batch to freeze for another meal a few weeks down the line. This recipe makes about 2 dozen meatballs which is sufficient for 4-6 servings, depending on if you are serving small kids. I make double the amount of the meatball recipe and once they are formed into 2 inch balls, I place half of them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place the sheet in the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, I transfer the balls to a Ziploc bag and label them with the date. I again thaw the meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet before browning them as directed and adding them to a fresh batch of sauce that really can be made in minutes. It really is a great way to get a jump on a delicious dinner on a busy day in a few weeks time when you are sure to appreciate that little bit of pre-planning.
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- 2 lbs coarsely ground pork
- 1 cup bread crumbs lightly packed
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground dry sage
- 1/2 tsp ground dry thyme
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 4 tbsp finely chopped green onion
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp peanut or canola oil
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger root
- 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice reserve 1/4 cup of juice
- 1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce substitute ketchup in a pinch
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar can be substituted
- 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
- 1 tsp chilli paste or a pinch of chill flakes more or less to taste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup (or to taste see instructions)
- 2 tbsp corn starch dissolved in the reserved pineapple juice
- 1/2 small red pepper diced small
- 1 1/2 cups diced pineapple
Pour the milk over the breadcrumbs to soak while you gather the rest of the ingredients.
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well.
Form into 2 inch balls. Keeping your hands wet with cold water prevents the mixture from sticking to your hands.
Brown the meatballs on all sides in a non stick frying pan for about 10 minutes. You want to get some good colour on them.
Add the meatballs to a covered casserole dish and pour the sauce over them. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 30-40 minutes; the sauce should be bubbling well at this point. Serve over steamed rice or thin Chinese noodles.
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add the peanut oil and minced garlic. Sauté for only about 20-30 seconds to heat the garlic then add all of the remaining ingredients except the pineapple, red pepper and honey or maple syrup.
Simmer slowly for 10 - 15 minutes.
NOTE: I don't add the honey or maple syrup until this point because I like to taste the sauce for balance before thickening it.. The pineapple juice may already have sweetened the sauce enough and you should take into account the sweetness of the pineapple you will be adding. Some very ripe golden pineapples will add plenty of sweetness all on their own. If the sauce is overly sweet, you can even add another splash of vinegar to balance the sweet and sour in the sauce. make your own judgement call at this point.
Thicken the sauce with the corn starch dissolved in the reserved 1/4 cup pineapple juice. Add the pineapple and red pepper before pouring onto the meatballs in the casserole dish.