Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, but it can be difficult to palate. These meatballs are the perfect disguise! Savor the authentic taste of Italian cuisine with these mouth-watering meatballs. Using premium ground beef and pork, fresh herbs and spices, and a secret ingredient (liver), these Italian meatballs offer a unique twist on a classic recipe.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Nutritional Profile of Liver
- 3 Tricks to Disguising Liver
- Tips for Making the Best Meatballs
- Preparing the Meatballs
- Give me the Recipe
I really debated including liver in the title of this recipe. Because let’s be honest, those who appreciate the flavor and consistency of liver are relatively few.
I gotta admit— I’m not a fan— never have been.
Growing up, my mom used to feed me and my siblings liverwurst sandwiches. Now my mom can cook— in fact, she’s one hell of a chef! However, these sandwiches were downright disgusting— sorry ma. And, of course, we were the sort of household that had to clear their plates in order to be excused from the table. So on the days when liverwurst was served, we were known to chuck hunks of sandwich behind the bookshelf when mom wasn’t looking. So the fact that I’m a mom— blogging about liver— is actually quite comical.
Why blog about liver when I can’t stand the stuff?
Because liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet!
Nutritional Profile of Liver
Although the nutritional profile of organ meat varies slightly, depending on the animal source and treatment of livestock, most are more nutrient-dense than muscle meat. And liver is no exception. It serves as an excellent source of vitamin A, riboflavin (B2), folate (B9), iron, copper, and choline. Beyond that, liver crushes the general nutrient profile of popularized “superfoods” such as kale, mushrooms, and blueberries.
Beyond its stellar nutrient profile, liver also happens to be a complete protein (providing all 9 essential amino acids), AND it’s low in calories, making it an optimal choice to maximize protein without overdoing fat.
Now that I’ve sold you on liver, let me teach you how to cook it.
3 Tricks to Disguising Liver
Due to its intense flavor and unusual texture, I’ve come up with a few tricks when cooking with liver.
1. Mix it With Other Meats
Liver may be a difficult stand-alone sell. However, mixing with other meats, such as ground beef or pork, can enhance your meal’s flavor and texture.
2. Go Heavy on the Seasoning
Due to its heavy nutritional load, liver delivers a robust flavor profile. The gamey taste of liver can be effectively masked with an appropriate blend of seasonings.
3. Mash it Up
There’s a reason why mom opted for liverwurst. Mashing the liver transforms its consistency, generally making it more palatable.
I used all three of these techniques within this recipe, ensuring the healthiest AND best-tasting meatballs possible.
Tips for Making the Best Meatballs
- Mash the liver well, or throw it in a blender and puree it. Here’s what you don’t want to do— coarsely chop the liver and hope for the best. What we’re going for here is full-on disguise. This means the more you mash the liver, the better it will be distributed throughout the meatball.
- Don’t skip the pork rinds. Maybe you don’t really like pork rinds— hey, I don’t love em’ either. Doesn’t matter— you won’t even be able to taste them. The pork rinds are all about enhancing the texture of the meatball.
- Do not over-mix the meat. Overworking the meat will result in tough meatballs— and that’s not what you want. What we’re going for are tender, juicy meatballs.
- Make even-sized meatballs. The last thing you want to do is bite into your meatballs and find one is raw, and another is dry and overcooked. Rolling the meat into evenly-sized balls will result in an even cook.
- Cook them to temperature (160°F). In order to avoid overcooking your meatballs, it would be wise to invest in a meat thermometer. Although not necessary, a thermometer guarantees that your meatballs are perfectly cooked.
Preparing the Meatballs
1. Grind the Pork Rinds
This is easily accomplished with a food processor. Simply place the pork rinds in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. If you don’t own a food processor, a rolling pin (or bottle of wine) will work just as well.
2. Mash (or puree) the Liver
The easiest way to do this is to place the liver in a blender and pulse until pureed. If you don’t own a blender, you can always chop it with a sharp knife until fully mashed.
3. Add the Remaining Ingredients
Next, you want to place the pork rinds, liver, beef, pork, cheese, eggs, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers (or a masher), fold the ingredients together until fully combined. Again, be careful not to over-mix the meat.
4. Roll into Meatballs
Finally, it’s time to form the meatballs. Again, try to make the meatballs uniform in size using approximately 2 Tablespoons of meat per ball. This can be accomplished using a small ice cream scooper or by simply eyeballing the measurements. If you choose to use a scooper, you’ll still need to roll the balls between your palms after scooping to smooth out the rough edges.
Cooking the Meatballs
Sautéed Meatballs (my preferred method): Place 2 Tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet and bring to medium heat. Once the butter has melted, gently place the meatballs in the skillet one by one. Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet— you want to leave room for flipping. Saute for 6-8 minutes (or until internal temp has reached 160°F), flipping frequently.
After the meatballs are cooked to temperature, pour your desired amount of Primal Kitchen Vodka Sauce sauce into the skillet and stir until the sauce begins to bubble. Pour the contents of the skillet into a serving dish and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean. Cook the remaining meatballs in batches adding additional butter as necessary, or store them in the fridge or freezer for future meals.
Serve with fresh Italian parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Baked Meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the meatballs on a baking tray. Again, be careful not to overcrowd the tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until internal temp has reached 160°F).
While the meatballs are baking, heat your desired amount of marinara sauce in a saucepan or microwave until warm and bubbly. Pour sauce over meatballs and serve with fresh Italian parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
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