Liver Meatball Success!

IMG_1244There is nothing genius or original about this idea: take a food that many (er, most?) people think is unsavory yet believe it is very good for them, and try to hide it in a more popular food item.  Liver is tops on many people’s lists.

The best source of B complex vitamins, iron, folate, copper, and other trace minerals, liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there.  Although hugely important for pregnant or nursing mothers, everyone can benefit by working some organ meats into their cooking routine.

In my house, the days are mostly gone when my kids would gobble up liver and onions.  And while they’ll still eat sauteed heart (oh yes, I’m serious), I must hide liver in a variety of things.  Check out my post for liver-dip, which is popular in the warmer months.

This time, it was meatballs.  While I’ve done this many times in the past, never had I gotten the ratio so exactly right so that the liver was truly hidden, though present enough to enhance nutrition.   I served the meatballs at my daughter’s 2 year birthday party, to about 20 unsuspecting family members and friends.  And you know what? I got compliment after compliment on how good the meatballs were!  All of the kids ate meatball subs with cheese and got little nutrition boosts into their systems, along with the adults.  I looked on from the sidelines with my little secret.  Only at the end of the party did we tell some of the guests.  I guess the rest will find out soon enough now!

Without further ado, here’s the recipe that worked for me.  Be aware that I was making a large batch for a party, so you may want to reduce the amounts to meet your needs.

  • 4 lbs ground grass-fed beef
  • 1/3 lb liver
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried parsely
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Step one:  Puree raw liver in food processor.  This is very important!  If there are chunks, it can be hard to mix well into the meatballs

Step two: Puree onion and garlic in food processor

Step three:  Mix the ground beef, liver and onion/garlic together with your hand.  Yes, your clean hand.  No kitchen tool that I’ve met can be as thorough and efficient at mixing meatballs or meatloaf as humans first tool.  This is the way my grandmother did it, and her meatballs were outstanding also.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Step four:  Form into balls and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  Then, put into a pot of homemade sauce to finish cooking and incorporate the flavor of the sauce.

Enjoy!

Summer Grilling

It’s summertime and like most people world wide, we like to cook meat over over a fire. Perhaps what’s most attractive is the primal aspect to it, an ancient connection to the elements that lures us outside on the hottest of days to stand over a flame.  Or maybe it’s simple cost efficiency- cooking inside causes the AC to go into overdrive.  Either way,  many nights a week we find ourselves at the grill, explaining the properties of fire to our 3 year old.

In light of this habit, I decided to take an adventure into the heart of southern cooking.  Ribs.  Beef ribs, no less.  They looked amazing, and how hard could it be, right?   And even if it went bad, I was comforted by the idea of bone broth after the meat was gone- that’s how I can justify such expensive cuts, by making several meals out of it.  Truth be told, I was still daunted by these ribs.  Little frightens me these days, as I’ve hacked my way through heart, liver, kidneys, and slurped bone marrow over the last several years.  Yet, beef ribs caused me angst.

After some recipe searching, we settled on a rub and then a low-and-slow bake in the oven, to be finished on the grill.   Creating the rub was fantastic.  I’m not a fan of measurements or exactitude, so the experimentation with a variety of vivid and fragrant spices was thrilling for the senses.  Rubbed on (quite a fun activity), I was ready to roast.

With the oven prepped to 225 degrees, the ribs were to cook for 3 hours.  Leaving the oven on for any length of time in the summer is counter-intuitive to me, but I went with the recipe, something I rarely do.  3 hours later, with the AC on overdrive, we put the ribs on the grill to finish.

The taste?  Well, it was fantastic.  Pure, sweet, juicy delight.  Though I’ve far from perfected ribs as the texture wasn’t the melt-in-your-mouth I was going for, it was a delicious dinner which was confirmed by my 16 month old sucking on the ribs.  But that wasn’t the best part.

It came 2 days later, when all of those immense, thick rib bones were turned into bone broth, together with some onions, carrots & garlic.  Thick, rich colored, gelatinous broth, which my children gulped down with loud slurps.  They fought over the globs of bone marrow, with the little one happy to have won the bone to suck on and nibble any last bits of meat off.    I couldn’t help but beam with pride.