Not everybody likes liver, these Paleo liver bacon meatballs are a very good way to get the nutrient dense meat without the strong taste.
I remember as a kid, in Italy, we ate liver regularly. It was perfectly normal, back then that kids would eat the same as the adults, which sounds funny now, in America, where kids have their own “menu” both at home and in restaurants. Yup, no pizza or hot dogs in my days. I am lucky enough to have come form one of the countries in the world where food and family are very high in people’s priorities, so I have cherished and used my family’s recipes on a daily basis. Now I am a fervent advocate of traditional foods. I understand that the pace of life is now very different than 50 years ago, so I usually modernize and simplify my traditional recipes to make them “user friendly” for busy lifestyles. Here is a couple of good examples: The traditional “Fegato Con Le Cipolle” (http://wp.me/s3xdu4-56) or the famous Ossobuco (http://wp.me/p3xdu4-9P)
One little known “secret” about liver I would like to share with you, is the importance of pre-soaking it. Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, used alternatively depending on the recipe, drain the meat of toxins and impurities, which is extremely important if you are not sure about the origins of the liver you are eating. I strongly recommend you get pasture raised, grass fed and finished beef liver ALL the time, but as this might not be possible for everybody, at least make sure you do soak it overnight before cooking it. All you need is 2 tablespoons of juice/vinegar per pound of meat. This process also removes a lot of the strong bloody smell, making the meat sweeter and more palatable. Oh! Almost forgot, for those of you that have access to raw milk, you can soak the meat in a cup of milk or homemade whey with even better results.
Back to our Paleo liver bacon meatballs, this version is a bit different to the one my “nonna” made, because she used nutmeg as a spice, and pancetta instead of bacon. I feel like the nutmeg did not blend well with the smokiness of the bacon. You might want to try and substitute Italian Pancetta for the bacon, used raw in the mixture, and add a pinch of nutmeg. It is fun to experiment with flavors.
- 1.5 pound grass-fed and finished ground beef
- ½ pound grass-fed and finished beef liver
- 8oz organic uncured bacon, diced small
- 1 pastured egg
- 1 organic shallot or small yellow organic onion, finely chopped
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup full fat coconut cream (or some cream form the top of your raw milk!)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- The night before: If your liver was previously frozen, defrost it, then put it in a colander and let it drain for a minute. Now place it in a glass Tupperware with about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and refrigerate over night. This will release any toxins that were stored in the meat, and it will remove some of the pungent liver smell, making it more palatable.
- On the next day: In a large pan, cook bacon over low heat, stirring often until done, without being too crispy. Remove the bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel or a paper bag, to drain the excess fat, reserving the rendered lard in the pan.
- In the meantime whisk the egg lightly with the cream, a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.
- In a food processor reduce the cooled bacon to rough crumbles. Now add the liver and process until it almost turns liquid. Next add the ground beef, onions, egg mixture, cayenne, and a bit more sea salt and pepper.
- Process very lightly, just enough to blend all the ingredients, if you like a finer texture you can process longer, but the end meatballs will be denser and not as soft.
- Form the meat mixture into some golfball sized meat balls. If you do not want to use your hands, you can use to spoons to do this job.
- Put the meatballs in the pan on a lively flame and brown on both sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side, adding ghee if the cooking fat is not enough. Cover the saucepan with a lid and allow the meatballs to cook for approximately 10 minutes on a low flame.
- You can serve them with a mixed green salad or with tomato sauce on top of noodles.