Sweet, tangy meatballs fit for a party

The sweet, tangy flavor of these Cocktail Meatballs with Cranberry Marinara is better suited to party food than a plate of spaghetti. Enlarge photo

Matthew Mead/Associated Press

The sweet, tangy flavor of these Cocktail Meatballs with Cranberry Marinara is better suited to party food than a plate of spaghetti.

Sometimes, failure can end up tasting pretty good. It certainly was the case with these meatballs.

I’d been aiming to creating a solidly delicious, all-purpose meatball suitable for tossing with marinara over spaghetti. Except it didn’t quite work out that way. The meatballs, while certainly delicious, were both too tangy and too sweet to pair with your basic pasta sauce. And they certainly didn’t agree with the mandatory Parmesan that spaghetti calls for.

So I tried them in a curry sauce. Indian food is particularly welcoming to that play of sweet and heat, tangy and savory. But that wasn’t quite right, either.

I was resistant to changing the meatballs themselves. Because while they didn’t partner well with anything I’d tried, I still thought they were good. And they certainly were worth salvaging. Then it hit me. Embrace the tangy, sweet-and-savory side of these meatballs. Turn them into party food.

And so I ended up with these cocktail meatballs, perfect for setting out with toothpicks for a holiday gathering. And it turned out the sauce couldn’t have been simpler – tomatoes and cranberry sauce.