Meat Ballin’

August 1st, 2013 | Posted by Alison Spath in Dinner Time

A few weeks ago I was out with all three kids (not unusual) and had nothing packed for any of us to eat (quite unusual). Hunger levels were quickly rising, morale was rapidly falling.  Given time and location, our best option was a small pizza place in order to save us (or save myself, really) from a hunger-induced group meltdown.

I'm Sorry for What I Said When I Was Hungry

The girls each got a slice of pizza, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover there were a bunch of decent side dishes on the menu.  I got three meatballs and some sauteed summer vegetables to share with 13 month old Kaz, who does not yet know that the children in this family are supposed to demand pizza and shun vegetables.  (Shhhh!)

Anyway, the meatballs were good, although I’m sure they had all sorts of funky ingredients in them.  This was just a run of the mill pizza joint, “Free Range Grass Fed Meatballs” were most definitely not on the menu.  But let’s not overthink it or fret about funky ingredients for too long – sometimes this is just how it goes.

Instead of fretting, let’s have a happy thought and think about making our own meatballs at home with quality ingredients.  I’ve never really been a Meatball Person (especially as a former vegetarian for most of my home cooking career) and this impromptu pizza stop helped me see that Hey!  Perhaps I should be a Meatball Person!  Balls of meat are good!  I think I am ready to join The Tribe of the Meatball People.  I hope the initiation is tasty.

In an effort to keep my meatballs to be free of funky ingredients, I bought some ground beef and pork sausage from a local farmer at a farmer’s market.  I also wanted them to be free of gluten – no breadcrumbs please!  I’m continuing to read about and experiment with a Paleo-esque lifestyle, I see again and again that I feel best when I consume little to no grains in my everyday life.

So whether you care about gluten or grains or breadcrumbs or not – these guys turned out great! I didn’t even intended to blog about my meatball adventure as the newest member of The Meatball Lovers Club, but they turned out so well that I can’t wait to make them again – and that little fact makes this recipe officially blog worthy.

Paleo Meatballs

Meatballs without Breadcrumbs

(Like Doctors without Borders?  Except you don’t need a passport, and I doubt these will win you a Nobel Peace Prize.  Let me know, though.)

print this recipe!

1 lb ground beef
1 lb pork sausage (cut out of the casing if needed)
1 egg, beaten
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small stalk of celery, finely diced
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 c – 1/2 c ground almonds
salt and pepper to taste, oregano, garlic powder
optional cayenne pepper and Tabasco if you like it spicy!

Combine all ingredients, use an ice cream scoop or 1/4 c measure to scoop meat and form into balls with your hands.

Makes 16 meatballs.

You could use a jar of spaghetti sauce or make your own – I went the Make Your Own Sauce route:

Tomato Sauce

16 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 diced onion (the other half from your meatballs!)
1 small carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste, (fresh or dried) basil

Preheat oven to 350.  Optionally, brown outside of each meatball in a frying pan (coated with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking) before moving meatballs to sauce.

Cover meatballs with sauce and bake in a covered oven safe dish for 40 minutes or until meatballs are no longer pink in the middle. Bake time will vary based on the size of your meatballs.

Or, if it’s too hot outside to even consider turning on the oven, you could go the crock pot route like I did – 1 hour on high then 3 to 4 hours on low.

Grain Free Meatballs

Served here as leftovers for lunch with summer squash sauteed in coconut oil.  We had these with Asian coleslaw the day before, which was my favorite of the two different sides.

I suppose this recipe could win you some sort of Peace Prize if you put these in front of your hungry and quickly-losing-patience-and-all-sense-of-dignity family and friends.  Eat up and may the peace be with you.

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4 Responses

  • jen says:

    I’ve been slacking on reading but “tribe of the meatball people” made me spit my hot tea into my cleavage thanks so much 😉

    I .. can not eat 3 meatballs at once, I’d probably die. I’m making them tonight, they are good! I cook mine in the sauce for a few hours.

    • Oh no, am I a meatball freak? I easily ate three! Maybe I’m making up for lost time.

      While looking at meatballs recipes I realized there are a bunch of different ways to cook them… do you bake them in sauce for a few hours or on the stove top? I want to try browning the outsides in a frying pan before baking them, thinking it might give them a crunchy texture on the outside? I also want to try baking them and then putting them in the sauce after they are cooked, wondering how it changes the texture.

      • 1. Your meatballs will never be crunchy on the outside unless you coat them in panko and deep fry… which would be weird. And grainy. Browning in a pan makes them sooo tasty, though. See Michael Pollan’s book, Cooked, for the science about why browned stuff tastes good.
        2. You ate two meatballs, your lactating boobs ate the 3rd. And I can totally eat 3 meatballs without lactating.
        3. Some meatball ideas:
        – Mix some coconut flour into the egg 1st to increase durability of meatballs; they will hold up better when you fry them.
        – A friend recently recommended this recipe: ground beef, ground pork, chopped green olives. I would add egg, coconut flour, salt & pepper but she swears she uses only the 3 ingredients.
        – Season meatballs with Chinese five spice powder and make sauce out of hoisin-laced beef bone broth reduction. mmm!
        4. Why haven’t we ever talked about this before? Meatballs are awesome!

      • jen says:

        No not a freak! haha

        I just put them in the sauce as it simmers on the stove. I start my sauce at 10am or so.. and by 3 or 4 I put the meat in and it’s ready for 6pm dinnertime.. though we usually eat later. I never cook them before putting them in. Once I baked them and I didn’t cover them so they were hard on the outside but probably not the “crispy” texture you want. My grandma browned them in a pan but I dont’ remember specifically how they were.