I’m not a fan of organ meat. Never did like it while growing up in Asia, even though it’s featured more commonly in Asian cuisines compared to Canadian/ American foods. When I started Paleo and subsequently the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), I knew I had to increase my organ meat intake in order to benefit from the rich nutrients offal has to offer (try to say that quickly…). Trying to introduce offal like liver proved tricky as my husband simply hates liver and can detect it hidden in foods!
There was an occasion during our pre-Paleo days when I got him a selection of finger foods from a catered event and one of it was liver pâté piped into a shortcrust pastry shell. I had sampled a piece myself and was pleasantly surprised by the taste. My husband took one bite and went running to the bin to spit it out. Apparently he had thought it was a milk chocolate mousse tartlet! So for some time I had quite a collection of vacuum packed frozen veal liver from our bulk meat purchases accumulating in the freezer as I did not dare cook them to avoid ruining a meal.
Sneaking food ingredients is not usually my thing but I wanted to get around two hurdles – the taste and texture of liver. Cooking the liver by simmering it beforehand helped a lot as the first time I made these meatballs, I had done it with chopped raw liver and did not particularly like forming the meatballs as the feeling of raw liver in my hands unnerved me somehow! Adding bacon and raisins helped to conceal the taste of liver with the savoury and sweet flavours. When I served these for dinner, the whole family wolfed it down and I did not mention that there was liver in it. My eldest son loves liver so that was a non-issue, and my husband did not comment about any ‘off flavours’ in the meatballs. A couple of days later, I brought up the topic of serving liver for dinner and he said that he wouldn’t touch it if I served it. So I told him that I had indeed served liver for dinner and he went: what do you mean? I would have tasted it if you had served it. I knew I had a winning recipe for my family in my hands when my husband had no clue that he had eaten liver!
These meatballs freeze well and I usually make a batch, put them in a large freezer bag and freeze them for days when I’m too busy or tired to cook from scratch. They keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator too, though I prefer eating them freshly made or heated up after being frozen. They can also be eaten cold or at room temperature, I’ve gone picnicking many times this summer with my family and meatballs were practically a staple dish for most of our picnics. My eldest son calls these meat cookies! It’s a good step forward to eating offal, and I hope that one day I will appreciate the taste and texture of it without having to hide it in other foods. Small steps, small steps.
Do you enjoy liver? How do you cook it?
Ingredients (makes 24)
- 1 lb/ 450g veal liver, connective tissue/ tubes removed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 lb/ 450g bacon, chopped
- 1 lb/ 450g veal/ beef, minced
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup grated and chopped zucchini
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tbsp dried parsley flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp tapioca starch
- Preheat oven to 350°F/ 175°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil and add the liver to the water
- Allow to simmer for 2-4 minutes before removing from heat and draining
- Set aside to cool before dicing the liver finely
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients together
- Form into palm-sized patties or meatballs approximately 1.5 inch in diameter
- Bake on prepared baking sheet for 35 minutes
- Meatballs are done when juices run clear