CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston resident Anne Strawn elected to make cocktail meatballs and sauce for the reception following last month's West Virginia Youth Symphony winter concert.Her sons, Nicholas, representing Capital High, and Salem, from Horace Mann Middle, were performing in the youth and cadet orchestras respectively.She put together her ingredients, brought her Crock-Pot full of goodness to the Scottish Rite Temple and plugged it in. Near where I happened to be.The sauce immediately intrigued me. It was very dark, a depth of color that I hadn't seen before which made me curious about what the ingredients could be. Strawn revealed she had used blackberry jam. Puzzle solved.I thought it would be the one-two deal of chili sauce and jelly, but she had added her own touches, stirring together her sauce from what she had on hand. She readily volunteered to share the recipe. The meatballs were very popular -- the first to disappear from the buffet table.Strawn explained she had lacked barbecue sauce, one component that she wanted to include. Her solution was to incorporate liquid smoke. We discussed how generally liquid smoke could scare cooks away from a recipe."It can be overpowering," she admitted, "but, when added with caution, there is just enough for taste interest."She says to make your own favorite meatballs that ordinarily go into another sauce and put them into this one. But she also had a more simple suggestion: "If you have a reliable frozen brand, go with it and save yourself time. On occasion, I've prepared the 6-pound package of 5/8-ounce-size meatballs from Sam's Club, which convincingly mimics a very good homemade."Symphony Sauce for Meatballs
Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
3/4 cup ketchup1 12-ounce bottle plus 1/2 cup chili sauce1 12-ounce jar blackberry jam1/4 cup lemon juice2 teaspoons liquid smoke
COMBINE ingredients in saucepan; heat and whisk until jam is melted and mixture blended.PLACE cooked meatballs in Crock-Pot; stir in sauce. Cook on low at least 3 to 4 hours or long enough for flavors to mellow and meatballs to be hot through if frozen.Nutrition information: 1/4 cup only: 100 calories, zero calories from fat, zero grams fat, zero grams saturated fat, zero milligrams cholesterol, 600 milligrams sodium, 25 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram protein.Reach Judy Grigoraci at email@example.com.