Monday, February 1, 2016

Slow Cooker Meatballs...AKA: Albondigas

I work with a large group of Latinos and we're always talking about food. A typical conversation may sound something like this:
Co-Worker: So what did you bring for lunch?
Me: I brought [insert latest homemade meal].
Co-Worker: Oooooh that sounds good
Me: [smiles] I brought extra!
Co-Worker: [big grin] Can I have some?
Me: Sure!

I am always sharing food and bringing in baked goods for them to try. I mean if I don't share, then that means I HAVE to eat it. I love eating and all, but my figure isn't going to keep itself. Soooo...that's when the sharing comes into play. Sharing is caring!

The other day my cell mate...I mean my cube mate started telling me about the albondigas that her mom made the previous night. She went on about how she loves her mom's albondigas, but they are high in fat due to the type of meat she uses and my cube mate has been working out and trying to eat healthier. This got me thinking about my own albondigas recipe that I had posted a while back. While it's simple to make, it's labor intensive when you "fry" up the meatballs. What if I recreated the original recipe into a slow cooker recipe? It could work, right?! IT TOTALLY DID! They are leaner than the original recipe since I didn't fry them so these will not break the calorie/macro bank. The flavor is still amazing and you will not believe that they are the healthier version of my original recipe.

I don't know why I didn't think of this way of cooking the albondigas sooner. I am always trying to simplify things in the kitchen and using a slow cooker is the best way to maximize your time when cooking. The slow cooker and I have not always had a great track record. I've probably destroyed more meals in that thing than I've had successes. I'm proud to say that this recipe was a slow cooker success. YAY! <happy dance> You would think the ease of use would equal great success. For me, not so much. I think the simplicity of it screws me up. Anyway, I digress.
The meatballs can be made gluten free and paleo if that's your thing. Making them Paleo also makes them low carb so all you Atkins, Keto, low carb peeps can participate in this deliciousness. Feel free to fry them up before sticking them in the slow cooker for extra fatty goodness. Or not.

Are you ready to get your cook on? Let's go!

Meatball Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. 96/4 lean ground beef
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. gluten free oat flour*
  • 1 tsp. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce**
  • 2 eggs
  • 20 mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
*For Paleo/Low Carb, use almond meal.
**For Paleo use coconut aminos; Low Carb use Braggs Aminos or Gluten Free soy sauce

 Sauce Ingredients:
  • 6 vine ripe tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 yellow onion coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  1. Combine the ground beef, minced garlic, oat flour, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, mint, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients thoroughly. I’m weirded out by touching raw meat and a total germaphobe so I put disposable gloves on to mix the meatball mixture.
  2. Once the ingredients have been mixed together, you will take a tablespoon sized portion of meat and roll it in your hands into a ball shape. Do this with the rest of the meat. You should end up with approximately 35-40 meatballs depending on how small you make them. Place them in the slow cooker as you roll them.
  3. Set the meatballs aside while you prepare the tomato sauce.
  4. Cut the tomatoes and onions in large pieces and place in a blender or food processor with the salt, garlic and cilantro. Blend until smooth.  
  5. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and cover.
  6. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. I cooked them for 8 hours on low and dinner was ready when I got home from work. My apartment smelled amazing AND I didn't have to cook. I call that a win.  
  7. Serve with rice, quinoa, or as is for the Paleo/Low Carb version. Top with cotija cheese or queso fresco.

Hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as I always have. It was one of my favorites growing up. What slow cooker recipes do you enjoy making?