Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Make a Batch of Meatballs

One of the things I have loved about paleo cooking is learning to make things in batches. Since there aren't many choices when it comes to finding something quick to eat that is also paleo, batch cooking is our lifeline. When I first learned of the concept I wondered why everyone doesn't employ this strategy. Would you rather spend an hour in the kitchen every night or a few hours on the weekend? The few hours on the weekend are used to cook things that require the largest time investment: Squash, sweet potatoes, beets, and of course meats. Then during the week all you have to do is heat up the time intensive foods and cook up a few quick vegetables.

Based on my friends and the comments I read online people:

  • 1) don't have much time to cook
  • 2) want something quick and easy
  • 3) are working with a budget
So my goal has been to create recipes that are as close to meeting those criteria as I can. Ground beef is one of the cheapest cuts of meat on the market. When it comes to buying beef grass fed is significantly healthier than grain fed. Grass fed has more anti-inflammatory Omega 3's and nutrients whereas grain fed is low in Omega 3's. Grain fed is also high in inflammatory Omega 6's and is more likely to come with a hefty dose of antibiotics and pesticides. If you've never shopped for grass fed beef you're most likely going to be in for a sticker shock. Grain fed is significantly cheaper because our government subsidizes grain crops but not grass. Your cheapest bet is going to be a local source by cutting out the middle man. For me I'd rather eat less meat of a higher quality than an abundance of meat that creates inflammation. I found a local butcher, Meats Royale, that carries grass finished beef, without hormones or antibiotics, and no GMO feed. As it turns out meat cannot receive a grade from the USDA unless it is grain fed. Grains are necessary for an animal to create marbling, ie fat, in the meat. Be aware of tricky labeling, organic beef can still be grain fed so look for grass fed.

A few years ago I looked in Julia Child's, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to see what she would do with ground beef. So I tried her Bifteck Hache a la Lyonnaise and I fell in love. I never knew that ground beef could taste so good. It was like a poor man's fancy steak dinner. Ever since then I have always gravitated towards that flavor profile because not only is it delicious it's also simple. In Julia's original recipe she sautees onions but I wanted this recipe to be quick and easy so I opted for onion powder instead. I also tried to make the math pretty with this recipe. I used 3 lbs of ground beef but all of the measurements can be easily converted to any number of pounds you use. Simply remember that 3 teaspoons equals 1 tablespoon and the math will always work out.

Bifteck Hache a La Lyonnaise Meatballs (cheater version)

3 lb of ground beef
3t of coarse salt or 1.5t of finely ground salt
1.5t of dry thyme
2T of onion powder
2T of bacon fat

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl with your hands. Then roll it into balls about the size of a golf ball. For this step I used a 3T sized scoop with a trigger and I placed the balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Parchment paper isn't necessary but it does make cleanup easier.

Bake the meatballs at 400F for 20 minutes. 

I have made this recipe more than once and I absolutely love it because the meatballs are delicious and they would pair with nearly any cuisine. You could cover them with barbecue sauce for a party, put them into a sandwich, use them with zoodles, spaghetti squash, or your favorite pasta, or you can eat them like I do just as they are with a side of your favorite vegetables. 

If you're going to freeze some of the meatballs I'd freeze them on a baking sheet and then put them into a storage container. To store them a bit longer put them into a zippered bag and zip it but leave room for a straw to be inserted. Inhale through the straw to remove as much air as possible and then finish zipping the bag as you quickly remove the straw. It's my attempt to vacuum seal without an actual vacuum sealer.

Let me know how you decided to use this recipe.