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Fig and Goat Cheese Meatballs

Around the holidays, saucy cocktail meatballs are always the first appetizer to go. In this dish, the sweet flavor of the fig glaze goes perfectly with the pork and tangy goat cheese. Serve hot from the skillet or gently reheat them for a make-ahead appetizer. —Kim Banick, Turner, Oregon
  • Total Time
    Prep: 45 min. Bake: 25 min.
  • Makes
    3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 pounds bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 log (4 ounces) fresh goat cheese
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 cup dried figs, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • Chopped fresh chives, optional

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs and eggs. Add sausage; mix lightly but thoroughly. Divide into 36 portions. Shape each portion around 1/2 teaspoon cheese to cover completely. Place meatballs on a greased rack in a 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake until cooked through, 25-30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and star anise to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Add figs; cook until softened, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Transfer to a blender. Add 1 cup water; process until almost smooth. Serve with meatballs. If desired, top meatballs with chopped chives. Freeze option: Freeze cooled meatballs and sauce in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a covered saucepan, stirring gently; add a little water if necessary.
Nutrition Facts
1 meatball: 97 calories, 6g fat (2g saturated fat), 26mg cholesterol, 175mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 0 fiber), 4g protein.

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