Sunday, January 18, 2015

Grassfed Beef Meatballs


I’ve been making these meatballs for several years now, and they’re wonderful for a quick lunch that can be prepared ahead of time.  My wife sticks to lean proteins, but roast chicken can get tiresome quickly, so I make these for her on a regular basis.  These meatballs are also convenient for days when there isn’t a microwave handy, as these meatballs are just as tasty when eaten cold.  Usually, people get hung-up on the whole “eating cold ground beef” thing.  Most of us have seen the forgotten hamburgers sitting around at a cookout with the grease from the burgers caking them with a white, waxy glaze.  So let’s totally banish that image. These meatballs are good hot or cold.
The trick to this recipe is to use grass-fed, pasture-raised beef.  The grind from these cows is incredibly lean and very flavorful.  I usually make these when I’ve got dinner going, as they’re simple to whip up.  A package of North Woods’ ground beef usually makes enough for three lunch portions.  Just mince up an onion or shallot (usually whatever I’m using for dinner that night), a clove of garlic, and knead that into a pound or so of ground beef. I use an egg to help bind everything and leave out the traditional breadcrumbs you see most meatball recipes. The breadcrumbs would trap the fat that otherwise renders off into the pan during cooking, so eliminating the breadcrumbs helps keep these meatballs lean and without any of that clinging fat.
For seasoning, you can go any route you like.  I’ve been using dried oregano, thyme, and sesame seeds lately, but mustard powder or curry powder are also great combinations.  Just go a little heavier than you normally would, if you plan to eat these cold, as cold meat can mute flavorings.  Add some salt and pepper to taste, then roll into the mixture into little balls and place on a non-stick baking sheet (silpats work great).  Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
Portioned and Ready for the Start of the Week
The results are very tasty little meatballs, and great for a healthy lunch during a busy work day.  Over time, I have played around with the recipe quite a bit, but it all started with a gyro recipe. If you did want to cycle back to the original recipe, they’re perfect stuffed into a pita with Greek yogurt, dill, and lemon.

Recipe at a Glance:
1 lb ground grass-fed beef
1 egg
1 shallot or half a medium onion, minced
2 tsp favorite seasoning blend (curry, za'atar, Mrs. Dash, etc)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix all ingredients together and form into small balls.  Place on a greased baking sheet and cook for 15-18 minutes until cooked through.

Serve plain or stuffed into warmed pitas.