When thinking of great food to contribute to the office potluck, or even your own sponsored holiday dinner table; thoughts of hearty dishes come to mind. With the change of season comes many reasons to add heavier, home-cooked dishes for potluck meals or anytime is the right time for meatballs!
There are many different variations of ingredients to add to your favorite ground meat, ground turkey, or ground lamb meatballs, though I wish to share some not-so-traditional tips. Adding healthy vegetables added in lieu of breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese or ketchup. Not that there’s anything wrong with those ingredients, I just want to share some healthy alternatives for YOU to try- COME ON, At least once, please…
Meatballs tend to get tough, dry or if not spiced and seasoned enough can oftentimes be bland tasting. One of the main reasons why meatballs get tough is that they have been handled too much in the process of adding blended herbs and spices. Ground meat of any sort is delicate and if you intend to handle and manipulate the shape a lot, then I suggest you pay attention to my suggestion for tender, great tasting, hearty, healthy meatball additives.
Of course, season according to your taste- Here is a recipe suggestion adding herbs and spices. If you ask me what I add, I can gladly share my ingredients additives with you!
For one and a half pounds of ground meat I add:
3 minced garlic cubes
1 full sliced and chopped red onion
1 handful of chopped cilantro and the same amount of parsley( curly parsley always works best)
1 med carrot, peeled, minced with a cheese grater
2 celery stalks, sliced, chopped and finely cut- Note: I include the celery leaves too, for added flavor and magnesium
2 teaspoons each:salt, fresh ground cumin, paprika
~and 1 teaspoon fresh ground multi-colored pepper or black pepper
For cooking,** I cook in my toaster over first, to get rid of excess animal fat. NOTE: For cooking meatballs you want to buy meat that is 70% lean, otherwise your meatballs may become too dry and you will end up adding butter for flavor.
*When meat is almost cooked, still pink inside, remove meatballs from the pan in your toaster oven, actually separating your meatballs from the animal fat that cooked it, blot the excess grease with a paper towel. Now you are ready to transfer your meatballs to a crock pot or an electric stock pan and add to the tomato sauce recipe, per below.
For the crock pot or stock pan~ sauce:
**Use 3 garlic cubes and mince them with a cheese grater.
Fry the garlic with a small amount of good-quality olive oil. Lightly fry, do not let the garlic cook to any more than a few minutes- make sure that your heat source is not too high. Cook enough to where you can smell the aroma of garlic, then add your fresh minced tomatoes, per below and finish by adding condiments to taste.
**Use 3 fresh, whole tomatoes, cut in half, now with a cheese grater rub the tomatoes against the grater to make a juicy tomato puree. Do not include the skin. Season with salt and pepper and cumin to taste. Add chopped cilantro, parsley and any other herb that you select that will come together nicely when allowed to slow cook in a hot sauce and tasty, well seasoned ground meat!
Allow all ingredients to slow sinner for 25 minutes and enjoy your hearty meatballs.
~NOTE: the carrots and celery will naturally tenderize the meat and is a really neat way to replace eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs or ketchup. You’ll find that the taste is great and actually consume your meal with less animal fat and less guilt.