Organ Meat Meatballs and Sauce
Oh good! You are reading this post… which means that the title did not scare you away! I asked Cameron what he thought about the fact that there was organ meat in the meatballs. He said, “So. It’s just another part of the cow, right?” When I mention organ meat to some adults, the typical reaction is, “Gross, no way!” It was my reaction for a very long time! My Mom would chop up turkey liver in the Thanksgiving stuffing. It was a sneak attack. I would be happily munching away on my T-day meal and all of a sudden…LIVER! YUCK! Oh, how things have changed!!
My organ meat meatballs and sauce are amazing! Even my unsuspecting (nobody tell him) husband pleasantly eats his way through a big bowl every night this dish is served!
First, the important info…Organ meats are some of the most nutrient-dense the foods that you can feed yourself and your kids! Both sets of twins had beef/chicken liver as their first solid food. Pretty great, huh! I can promise this…it’s way better for those little bodies than rice cereal. Here is why:
Chris Kresser’s post on “How to Eat More Organs” offers an important fact about beef heart:
Beef heart is tricky to cook, so you want to marinate it or grind it for the best results.
I could write a whole post just about the amazing power of beef liver! Here are its highlights:
An important source of retinol is pre-formed vitamin A. Just three ounces of beef liver contains, 26,973 IU of vitamin A
Folate, choline, and vitamin B12 are three more nutrients that are found abundantly in the liver
Beef liver contains 14.3mg of copper per 100g, while chicken and pork livers contain less than 1mg.
Beef liver is best tasting when soaked in milk or lemon juice. This step is important if you are sensitive to the “organy” taste of the liver which usually comes from the blood.
A beef kidney is another excellent nutrient powerhouse, according to this article:
As you can see, I did not need much more evidence to support my decision to add organ meat to my children’s diet. I asked my local whole foods if they could do an organ meat grind for me and they AGREED!! YAY! Every 8-12 weeks, I have them grind me 20 pounds of grass-finished beef organs/meat and wrap it in ten, two-pound packages. I use this ratio:
7 pounds heart
3 pounds of kidney
6 pounds of liver
4 pounds of ground beef
Then I have it ready for recipes!! I get a lot at a time because it is a pain for them to do. They have to clean the grinder after every organ they grind. And, I don’t want them to stop doing it for me :).
Here is how I made last night’s (Wednesday) 6 1/2 year old celebration dinner for the boys:
Chop the vegetables on Monday and store in ziplock bags with herbs and olive oil.
I used beets, onions, zucchini, peppers, turnips, butternut squash, 2 heads of garlic (I know! That’s a lot of garlic!) beet greens, radish greens, basil, oregano and rosemary.
Sauce the garlic and greens on Tuesday in olive oil over medium heat until wilted.
Cool and puree all in my Vitamix along with a can of anchovies and two cans of organic diced tomatoes. Presto!! Sauce!! I store it in quart size mason jars until I am ready to reheat it.
The meatballs are super simple! I used two pounds of organ meat grind and one pound of pastured ground pork. I added 3 Tbsp of Italian seasoning and scooped them onto a baking sheet. I baked them at 350 for 30 min. They finish cooking in the sauce on the stove. Baking them in the oven cuts down on any added grease in the sauce as it will stay behind on the pan. I store them in a container in the fridge until I am ready to heat the sauce.
On Wednesday afternoon I heated the sauce until bubbly, added the meatballs and 2 pounds of sliced mushrooms. I simmered the sauce until dinner time.
I have unsuccessfully used spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles in the past instead of pasta. The kids…did not want either one! So, I now use organic rice noodles from Trader Joes. I use a small amount and load up on the sauce and meatballs. All they really want to do is see them in the bowl! Think about all of the veggies they are getting in every bite of that sauce!
Let me know what you think!!