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In baseball, explains Rach, it's bad for a pitcher to "throw meat" or "meatballs" because that kind of ball, right down the middle of the plate, is easy for the batter to hit. "Pitchers don't want to throw meatballs," she says, "but everybody likes to EAT meatballs!" So, for her baseball-themed episode, Rach made these crowd-pleasing beauties wrapped in bacon "laces" and topped with BBQ AND ranch sauce. Serve them on a plate or in a roll and don't wait until game day! 

Pro Tip from Rach: The ranch sauce is delicious and thick and fabulous as it is, but you can add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to thin it a bit, if you like.

John created this beer, bourbon and hot sauce cocktail, called Give 'Em the Heater, to go with the meatballs. We highly recommend the "Batter Up" Breakfast Corn Dogs that Josh Capon prepared on this episode, too. 


For 'Da Balls:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons yellow or brown mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar or acacia honey
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef, 80%
  • ¾ to 1 pound spicy sausage of choice
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, panko or freshly ground stale bread
  • 1 egg
  • About 12 ounces diced cheese (pepper Jack or Monterey Jack)
  • 1 pound meaty, but very thinly sliced bacon
For the BBQ Sauce:
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons yellow or brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar or acacia honey
For the Ranch:
  • 1 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • Chopped chives, parsley and dill
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha or Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ palmful garlic powder
  • ½ palmful onion powder
To Serve:
  • Chopped pickles
  • Hoagie rolls (optional)


Serves: 4


Preheat oven to 400°F, with rack at center. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. 

For 'da balls, heat olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions to soften, then chili pepper and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add ½ cup water, a squirt of mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire, cider vinegar and brown sugar and cook until softened and reduced, then cool. 

Mix meats, cooled onion mixture, breadcrumbs and egg. Form small patties by scoring meat into 12 patties, then put the cheese cubes in the center of each and form into balls. Wrap balls in bacon and bake until crisp and cooked through, 25 minutes or so.

Rachael Ray 3-Quart Covered Saucepan

Rachael Ray 3-Quart Covered Saucepan

Rachael Ray

Meanwhile, for the BBQ sauce, heat a small pot with ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire, vinegar and sugar or honey. Stir 2 minutes at a bubble, then turn off. 

For the ranch, mix yogurt, herbs, sriracha, salt and pepper and garlic and onion powder. Place in squeeze bottle or small bowl. 

After 25 minutes are up, baste the meatballs with some BBQ sauce and return to the oven for 5 more minutes or until cooked through. 

Serve as is with chopped pickles and ranch or on hoagie rolls with same.