Grass Fed Bison Meatballs

I’d like to take a moment to talk about a controversial subject- meat. Meat and its consumption is quite a hot point of contention these days; from sustainability to ethics, the subject of meat consumption gets a great deal of people hot under the collar.

Now, I’m a chef and I LOVE food; I’m not a vegan, I don’t eat exclusively raw and while I love plant based cooking and eating, I’ll be honest with you, I love meat- I like to consider myself a qualitarian, I eat only quality food; and there are moments when the only cure my for insatiable hunger are delicious meatballs. I’ll never apologize for my love of meat.

Do I eat meat every day? Certainly not. Not only does this create a demand that farmers cannot keep up with; but it’s not good for the human body to eat meat at every meal.

However, what I take the most issue with is the treatment of the animals, animals held in small cages, are unhappy; animals who are held in tight quarters with dead or dying brethren are not only unhappy but far more susceptible to disease and this is why big agriculture farmers (we’re talking the Lilydale’s of the world) use pharmaceuticals to keep their animals “healthy”- I use the term loosely. This is NOT the meat that I choose to eat. The more money we funnel into these practices, the more it will continue to happen. Why do I care? I mean, meat is meat, right? Wrong!

Animals are reared so that we can be nourished, this is an amazing sacrifice; and cows, chicken, pigs, hens and everything in between should be treated with the utmost respect during their lives. They should be allowed to roam free, reproduce and live without cruelty until the moment they make the ultimate sacrifice; in ancient times, the animals that gave their lives were celebrated, it is not the case today.

But, there are farmers out there who continue the tradition of respect, and those are the ones that I choose to support. Working at an organic deli, I have the unique opportunity to work with food that is not only organic and local, but kind- we know the names of the farmer’s who supply our food; and being able to look the person who reared your food in the eye, breeds a level of accountability- to the consumer and to the animals. I am a proud meat eater, because the meat that I eat is something I can be proud of; local, organic, grass fed, sustainable and most importantly, HAPPY.

Rant. Over.

These meatballs are made from local, grass fed bison, and most know meats like elk and bison to be gamey; but this is not the case with grass fed meats. I have absolutely no proof of this, other than what my palate tells me, but I trust my taste buds! Now, bison, elk, venison and the like are generally very lean types of meat, so they require a decent amount of fat in order to be palatable; in this recipe I achieve a moist product by cooking the kale and onions in coconut oil, so they infuse moisture from the inside.

There are millions of meatball recipes, some with flour and breadcrumbs, others with eggs; but these balls are just bison, oregano, kale and onion, with salt, cumin, pesto and chili flakes thrown in for good measure, so this recipe is gluten free. With the omission of pesto it’s also nut free too. I simmered my meatballs in crushed tomatoes to finish the cooking and this also achieves a deliciously rich sauce.

This recipe proves that eating meat, and meatballs, is not a bad thing; just be sure it’s sustainable and as kind as can be- and don’t eat meatballs from IKEA.

2 oz. kale leaves, chopped
½ sweet onion, diced
1 tbsp coconut oil
505 g ground grass fed bison meat
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 oz macadamia nut pesto
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp red chili flakes

500 ml crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
¼ tsp coconut sugar

In a pan on medium high heat, melt the coconut oil; add the kale and onions and cook for 5 minutes, until the onions become translucent and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Keep the pan.

In a bowl, combine the oregano, pesto, salt and chili flakes in a bowl and fold in the ground bison. Fold until all the ingredients are evenly distributed; add the cooled kale and onions, and stir to combine.

Form ball, the size of your choice, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; refrigerate the mixture for one hour.

In the same pan, melt one tablespoon of coconut oil; brown the balls on all sides in batches- DO NOT OVERCROWD THE PAN. Set the ball aside and add the crushed tomatoes, oregano and coconut sugar; bring to a simmer, add the meatballs back to the pan and cook for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are completely cooked through.

Serve over quinoa pasta.