Saturday, January 23, 2010

Grassy Meatballs!

How many of you have tasted grass-fed beef? If you haven't, it's wonderful. It has so much more flavor than typical grocery store (feedlot) meat.

It's also healthier. says this:

A major benefit of raising animals on pasture is that their products are healthier for you. For example, compared with feedlot meat, meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,”

If you would like more reasons as to why you should make the switch to switch to grass-fed beef/meat, I suggest you rent Food, Inc. or read more here.

This year, we bought a 1/4 cow from Bryant Family Farm, a local, family-run farm. Our family has been very fortunate to be able to find a wonderful local resource for meat (and pasture eggs, milk and so much more). I love that our meat was treated humanely and fed properly before it ended up on our plates! Those of you who know me well, know I love supporting local businesses.

If you're looking for a local grass-fed meat source, EatWild has an excellent database. If you can't find anything locally, EatWild has a list of farms that ship. You may find the prices of meat more than what you're used to. My tip: Eat superior quality meat - just less of it!

I thought I'd share with you a beef recipe I grabbed off of Gluten-Free Goddess last week (see her recipe for various meatball meal recipes). I was out of eggs and found this lovely egg-free meatball recipe. I served these with marinara sauce and noodles. Each one of my family members loved them. The girls asked that I make them every day. I made a huge batch and froze the leftovers.

Gluten-Free Meatballs
(see notes at bottom for my changes)

1 small to medium sweet onion
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in half
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into several pieces
1 pound of organic grass fed ground beef or buffalo- either works
1 pound of organic ground pork
1/2 cup Annie's Naturals or Muir Glen Organic Ketchup
1 tablespoon organic molasses (this helps bind the mixture)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 to 1/2 cup gluten-free herbed bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (my secret ingredient!)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Dash of red pepper flakes, for heat, if desired
Olive oil, as needed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss the onion, garlic and carrot pieces into a food processor and pulse until the texture is very finely diced. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, briefly stir together the ground beef and pork. Add in the processed onion, garlic and carrot mixture, ketchup, molasses, balsamic vinegar, parsley, gluten-free bread crumbs, sea salt and pepper flakes. Mix gently to combine. Try not to over-mix (over-mixing makes a dense meatball).

Rub a little olive oil on your hands and form the meatball mixture into balls (roughly the size of golf balls). Place them on the lined baking sheet. You should end up with about 20-24 balls.

Bake the meatballs in the center of the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until done (no longer pink in the center). Note: Smaller meatballs cook faster, so if your meatballs are smaller, check them at 20 minutes. If you make ginormous balls, Darling, they'll take longer to cook through. Adjust baking times accordingly.

You could also fry the meatballs in a large skillet, using olive oil, I suppose, but this method makes an oilier meatball.

Makes about six servings.

Natalie's Changes: I used two pounds of ground beef instead of a combo. I used panko crumbs (not gluten-free) because that's all I had. Next time, I may grind up some oats and use those instead.


Mom said...

Hey Nat...thanks for introducing us to Bison...found Bison steak medallions the other day....yummy

Anderson Family said...

My parents fun a grass fed beef farm in VT and the meat is wonderful. It is so worth the extra money that you spend. The meat tastes so good and its so healthy for you. I just got a 1/2 a pig from them when I went home for Christmas and I'm hoping they will have room in their car to bring down some beef when they come to visit after the new baby is born. I know its not local but its family so I feel good about supporting a small farm (gotta keep their heads above It sounds like you guys are doing well and are enjoying your new home. I hope I enjoy our move to FL within the next year as much as you have.

Jay and Amie said...

Mmmm -that recipe sounds delicious! I'll definitely have to try it! I've bookmarked the EatWell site too - once we have a house & enough room for a big freezer, we plan on buying meat from a farm just like you did :)

Kristen said...

Natalie! Hi, it's Kristen. I saw you're blogspot URL on facebook. LOVE your posts and recipes! So interesting and informative. Hope you and family are doing well!