Monday, March 4, 2013

Paleo/Primal Comfort Food - Meatballs & Cheese Sauce

I haven't posted much of anything recently because life just has been that busy.  Add to that our recent changes in the way we eat... it makes me want to go back through my blog and adjust and change as many recipes as possible to make them Paleo/Primal/Grain-Free.  We have been trying a lot of new recipes and learning new ways to eat and cook, but sometimes, you just crave the familiar.  Sometimes, you really want food to bring you that comfort feeling.  It's been a long winter here and no end in sight for the cold and snow.  The kids were begging for macaroni and cheese and I really wanted meatballs!  The old me would have cut up some stale bread and soaked it in milk for an hour, squeezed out the excess and put that in my meatballs to give them softness and moisture.  I know some people use bread crumbs, but dry bread crumbs just suck out all the moisture and leave you with a dry meatball.  This is the way my family and others have done it for years and people love my meatballs.  BUT since we no longer can use bread... it got me thinking.  Anyway, after a little playing around, I got the right mix and you wouldn't know there was not any milk soaked bread in my meatballs.  The old me would have also made the cheese sauce for their mac & cheese by starting with a rue. 

Everybody does these paleo/primal/grain-free changes differently, and I truly believe you have to find what works best for you and your family.  We were already a no processed foods family, so the transition was pretty uneventful.  Anyway... my kids wanted macaroni and cheese and I really wanted meatballs and this is what we came up with and everybody was happy even Dad!

Spaghetti Squash with Primal Cheese Sauce and Paleo or Primal Meatballs

Ingredients for the Meatballs
1lb of grass-fed ground beef
1 clove of garlic
1 shallot
1 large organic free-range egg
1 tsp fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
1 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (omit if you don't do dairy)
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 tsp sea-salt
1/2 TBS coconut flour

Ingredients for the "Pasta"
1 or 2 Spaghetti Squash depending on the size of your squash
Olive Oil
Can't get Spaghetti Squash?  Make Zucchini Ribbon Noodles :)

Ingredients for Cheese Sauce
1 cup organic heavy cream
8oz. organic mascarpone cheese or make your own (homemade mascarpone cheeese)
1 cup mix of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romano & Asiago cheeses
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Method for Meatballs
In a medium mixing bowl, add beef.  Grate in the garlic and shallot.  If you don't want the garlic to be too strong use a small clove.  Then grate in the shallot.  Add your salt and crushed red pepper.  Dice your fresh herbs and add to bowl or measure your dried herbs and add to bowl.  Mix everything together.  Don't over mix, you don't want your meat to tighten up when cooking.  
Sprinkle the coconut flour over a now very wet mixture and incorporate gently.  On a medium low heat, warm your frying pan and add a touch of olive oil or coconut oil... then put your formed meatballs in the pan.  
Cook slowly and turn as each side browns.  Remove from heat and let rest in the warm skillet for about 10 to 15 mins before serving.

 Method for Spaghetti Squash

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Cut the ends off your squash and then cut lengthwise down your squash so you have two boat like halves.  Scrape out the seeds and guts.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Place in an oven safe roasting dish and bake for 20 to 30 mins until squash pulls away like noodles easily with a fork.  Once done, let cool for a few minutes until easy to handle.  Turn off oven.  Pull the noodles strands out of the squash and place in an oven safe bowl.  or back into your roasting pan.  Place squash back into the still warm but off oven to stay warm until everything else is ready.

Method for Cheese Sauce

In a medium/large cold saucepan or saucier, place your mascarpone cheese and then add your cream.  Turn burner on medium low heat.  Let mixture start to warm slow and gentle otherwise your mascarpone will break.  You can sub organic cream cheese but it will add that cream cheese tang to your sauce.  Using a whisk, continually whisk as it gently warms so that cream and mascarpone are well incorporated and no lumps.  Add your salt and nutmeg.  Then add your grated cheese mix.  Continue to stir/whisk gently until all cheese is incorporated.  Taste your sauce, add a little salt if necessary.  Turn down your heat and let it continue to cook together and the cream reduces slightly.  This whole process should take about 20 mins.  The sauce when done should coat your spoon. 

To assemble.  In a terrine or bowl, add your squash, then laddle over your sauce then add your meatballs and grate some fresh Parm-Reg over the top.  Delish!  Enjoy!

This would also work well with red sauce and meatballs over your squash if you don't do diary.


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