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.
My very first time ever preparing let alone eating liver! Was definitely intrigued but also intimidated. When I saw a piece of organic/grass fed beef liver in the freezer at Whole Foods I went for it. I soaked it in organic half & half overnight. When I got home I drained and dried it before preparing the meatball mix.
I had 2lbs of ground beef; 0.5lb liver and probably only 4oz of bacon…definitely could have use more bacon. I felt like it needed more seasoning besides s/p/cayenne so I grated in some fresh nutmeg…don’t ask me why. Even with more beef I still only used 1/4c coc milk and 1 egg…the mix held together fine. But they were messy to fry and I had to be careful flipping them. Maybe a SS pan wasn’t the best choice. This made a lot of meatballs…probably two dozen golf-ball sized. I transferred them into a saucepan with Raos Marinara to finish cooking.
Definitely a great way to try out liver! I’m looking forward to making these again…with more bacon 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing! Your recipes are delicious and your photography is mouth-watering.
I am SOOOO happy that I converted at least one person to liver 😉
BTW nutmeg was the main spice of my mom’s meatballs in Italy….you had a great intuition! (in fact I can not use nutmeg on anything else as it screams MEATBALLS to me!!)
I am delighted you liked the recipe! 🙂
Made these today – wow, delicious! Will definitely make again, but maybe add a clove or two of garlic. I didn’t bother soaking the liver since it came from a grass-fed, grass-finished cow from farmers I trust. Thanks for sharing!
Fantastic! Some people soak the liver to remove the funky smell…I do not mind it at all! Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Can I use coconut milk? I started the recipe not realizing the difference oops!
yes you can!!
Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I loved the taste of liver when I was young, but find it less palatable now that I’m an adult for some reason. This kind of recipe allows me to incorporate liver into my diet without having to eat it “straight up”. 😉
I really glad this helps!
Do you know the iron intake with this recipe?
No I am sorry, I have not calculated that…
Wow! This recipe is incredible! I’ve made liver a bunch of different ways before, but all my prior attempts at hidden liver meatballs were OK at best (because the ratios must have been a little off, too much liver: meat). This recipe turned out so great I could eat these meatballs for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Delicious! PS: pretty sure from here on out any liver recipes I make will involve bacon. The bacon definitely helps to balance out the liver! Thank you!!
Omg, add 1 cup of shredded coconut to this recipe! I also added a bit of garlic and omitted onion as I’m intolerant. I had 2lb of beef. I might try 2 cups of coconut next time. It also holds the meat mixture together well.
Very interesting variation Amber!! Did it come out good?
Looks awesome! Do you think I can get away with using pork liver instead of beef liver?
Absolutely, you can use any liver!!
Going to the store to get some liver. We have fresh Elk from the hunt and ground pork from a pig we slaughtered. So excited to try this combination of meat! I think we will try garlic too, definatley will soak in apple cider, keeping the coconut milk, egg and parmesean cheese (we are keto). Thanks for posting and enjoyed everyone’s comments! I will update progress!
These meatballs are SO good! The bacon and the shallots mask the liver taste perfectly and they are super easy to make. This will be my go-to liver recipe from now on! Do you think these will freeze well uncooked?
Yes I think so. I do not freeze recipes, usually just the ingredients, so I have not tried but I think it will be fine 🙂 And so happy you like them!!
So glad I found your recipe! I mixed in spleen and liver (2.5 parts ground beef, .5 parts liver and 1.5 points spleen) as I wanted to try more organs, and spleen seems to be even better in terms of nutrients. And it’s amazing, especially topped with some spicy garlicy guacamole! Left out the cream though. I know I didn’t follow your ratio as I do like the taste of iron, but the onions and the bacon really make a difference! Thanks, even if somewhat late to the party!
I am glad this recipe inspired you! I think I would like your modifications as well 😉