Chafing-Dish Meat Balls

Chafing-Dish Meat Balls

A Recipe from Good Housekeeping’s Complete CHRISTMAS COOKBOOK (1967)

About the Recipe

Each year for Christmas, my husband and I host what we call Orphan Christmas. We invite friends who are Jews (like us), who are unable to really travel, or who just have no where else to go to join our holiday gathering and table. We cook a big meal and sit down together to make merry. It’s basically heaven.

This year, I dipped into a new-old cookbook to create these meatballs, and they did not disappoint! They remind me of the Swedish meatballs a friend used to make for various festivities (and maybe for Christmas once or twice). The meatballs themselves are fantastic. It’s a great, easy recipe. I can easily see making a batch of them and then freezing them for a day when I don’t feel like cooking but want good spaghetti and meatballs.

In lieu of canned tomato juice, I opted for some bloody mary mix which I had on hand. I paired that with some original Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, a favorite in our household, to make the sauce. I’ll go ahead and say, use whatever you really enjoy. It’s hard to miss on this one as long as you have the sweet in the barbecue sauce and the savory in the tomato juice.

About the book

I got this book as part of a set from my secret holiday gifter on my team at LinkedIn! I mentioned that I collect and cook out of vintage cookbooks, and this delightful set arrived on my doorstep. The Good Housekeeping Complete Cookbooks come in a set of 15 books, along with a plastic holder. This book is one of the set. As with so many of these MCM cookbooks, it comes complete with terrible food photos and delightful illustrations. I’m so excited to cook some more out of these books.

About the glassware

This barbed wire pattern divided dish is one of my favorite finds. It was a limited release in 1958 and I found it complete with a lid and in perfect condition. The cradle it’s in didn’t come with it, but is a partner to another divided dish that I have. It was the first pattern released on a divided dish, originally called the Cinderella Divided Serving Dish – delightful!

The Recipe!


1 1/2 lbs chuck, ground
1/2 cup finely-sifted dried bread crumbs
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups canned tomato juice
2 T regular all-purpose flour
3/4 cup bottled barbecue sauce
1/4 cup water
1 1-lb. 4 1/2-oz. can pineapple chunks, drained


Early on day:
1. In bowl, with 2-tined fork, toss together chuck, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, egg, and milk until well blended. Shape into 1/2- to 3/4-inch balls. Place in shallow pan with shortening; refrigerate.
2. In saucepan combine tomato juice and flour until sooth. Add barbecue sauce and water; blend well.

About 1 hour and 30 minutes before serving:
1. Start heating oven to 350*F.
2. Bake meat balls 30 minutes; now drain off excess fat then pour on tomato sauce; bake 45 minutes longer.
3. To serve, spoon meat balls and sauce into chafing dish or serving dish, with pineapple chunks here and there.

Makes 48 meatballs.