Sometimes recipes come about through mysterious means. The story behind this meatball is, in part, the story of my search for clear skin. One of the "ingredients" that healthy skin requires is vitamin A, which is essential to the ability to shed off (desquamate) the dead skin cells that make it to the surface. But vitamin A is an interesting case--we're told that we can get enough by eating fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene (like carrots) because the body can convert it into vitamin A. But the reality is that 50% of the population does not have the genetic ability to perform this conversion.
I had no idea if I was one of these people, but I thought adding sources of vitamin A to my diet would be an interesting experiment. Vitamin A is really only available from animals, and liver is by far the richest source. But I was not one of those people who grew up eating liver, and although I looked through recipes for cooking it up and eating it like a steak, it just wasn't gonna happen, at least not yet.
Finding a way of hiding liver in other foods, however, now that's a challenge I couldn't resit! I love meatballs, and they were such an obvious choice since they're already a multi-ingredient, mixed-meat sort of recipe. Your average meatball has a hunk of breadcrumbs in it, however, and that wasn't going to do. I also couldn't resit such an obvious opportunity to cram veggies into the game. The wonderful thing is that they add a depth of flavour and savoury-ness to the meat that is just mouth-watering. The other funny thing is that the liver--which trust me, you cannot taste--makes these guys super moist. Meatball perfection.
From a nutritional standpoint, 3 meatballs supplies about 700mcg of vitamin A, which is 100% of the average recommended daily amount. Liver is very rich (vitamin A and copper), not to mention the high fat content of the mince, so go easy and don't overdue it. Both are wonderful for us, just don't go mad eating them every day. (I have four meatballs once a week.) As with everything you eat, remember the bigger picture for overall macro- and micro-nutrient balance.
I usually double this recipe, let the meatballs cool, and them place them in containers to freeze. If you remember to take a few out of the freezer in the morning and stick them in the fridge, they're defrosted by the evening and just need to be warmed up to make your dinner. They are lovely with my corgette pasta! Spaghetti and meatballs, hurrah--I bet you didn't think you'd be eating that! Or I stick a few frozen meatballs onto the top of the salad I make in the morning and take into work for lunch. They defrost by lunchtime and taste really nice with a hearty bit of salad (like chopped cabbage and carrot coleslaw).
A few tips for this recipe: