Crockpot Italian Meatballs

…with a twist.

Lately I’ve received many requests for crockpot recipes, so I decided to keep it simple and create something with Italian flavors but with a special addition.

I’ve had two pounds of grass-fed calf’s liver sitting in my freezer for months now, unsure of what to do with it. Liver is known as one of the most potent superfoods and is ridiculously high in micronutrients. I recently tried sheep’s liver fried in butter and onions and while it wasn’t utterly terrible I didn’t find it great either. The idea of hiding the liver in something else (meatballs) came to me, and so I pulled the calf’s liver out of the deep freeze and grated it into the meatball mixture. You could very easily make these meatballs with any type of ground meat you’d like (bison, turkey, elk, pork, etc) and certainly leave out the liver if you prefer. I made two pounds of meatballs and in the future might even do three pounds at a time since they will freeze well or make great leftovers throughout the week.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb (1 kg) grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/3 cup calf’s liver, frozen and grated*
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup olives, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 jar organic pasta sauce (read the labels carefully, I like Muir Glen)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)

*add more or less to suit your taste

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Directions:

  1. Prepare the vegetables: chop 1/2 of a red bell pepper into small dice and slice the other bell pepper thinly; slice the green onions thinly (white + green parts); chop the olives; mince the garlic.
  2. In a large bowl, add the ground beef, vegetables, egg and spices together.
  3. Grate frozen liver into the beef mixture. You can add as much as you’d like, but I went with a small amount (1/2 cup) to start. Omit liver if you’d prefer.
  4. Mix all the ingredients to combine. Shape into balls. I made them fairly large and got 20 total.
  5. Heat a skillet to medium and add 1 tbsp coconut olive. Brown the meatballs on all sides and add to the crockpot. This took two batches.
  6. Sprinkle the sliced red bell pepper on top of the meatballs and pour pasta sauce and diced tomatoes on top.
  7. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
  8. Serve with spaghetti squash, over sautéed kale, or just as is.
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