One year, when I vacationed in Italy, I found a restaurant that served the best meatballs I had ever tasted. They were tender and so flavorful! Since then, I discovered that braising meatballs, instead of baking or browning them in a skillet, is the best method for cooking them. Braising is a method of cooking in which the meat is simmered in a cooking liquid or, in this case, a delicious sauce. It is safe to add raw meat to the braising liquid as long as it continues simmering until the meatballs are cooked through. These are hearty, good-sized meatballs so, for me, two are plenty! The sauce is a light tomato-based sauce that also has wine and beef broth. As the meatballs cook in the sauce, a twofold exchange is going on: First, the meatballs become more flavorful by absorbing the sauce as they cook. Secondly, the sauce reduces and deepens in flavor as the meat releases its juices. I think you’ll agree with me that these tender and delicious meatballs are some of the best you’ve ever had!
Keto Braised Italian Meatballs
Makes 6 servings
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
2 slices of low carb bread (or 2 chaffles), lightly toasted or dried out
1/2 cup riced cauliflower, thawed and excess liquid removed
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 can (14.5 or 15 oz) diced tomatoes (with liquid), blitzed in a food processor to make a smooth sauce (or 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon zero-carb brown sugar substitute, such as Swerve Brown
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped (if using dried herbs, use 1/2 the amount called for)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef stock
1. Tear the dried low carb bread (or chaffles) into pieces and place in a food processor. Add the drained riced cauliflower and pulse together until crumbs; set aside.
2. Placed the ground pork and beef into a large bowl and mix well. Mix in the bread or chaffle crumbs, the egg and mix. Add the grated cheese, herbs and fennel seeds and mix well with your hands until all the ingredients are well distributed.
3. Using your hands, shape into meatballs about 2-1/2 inches in diameter or use slightly less than 1/3 cup measuring cup to form 12 equal-sized meatballs. Set aside. (This step can be done one day ahead and refrigerated. Allow the meatballs to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking.)
4. To make the sauce: Pour the diced tomatoes and tomato paste into the food processor and blitz until it forms a smooth sauce. Measure to make sure you have at least 1-1/2 cups of tomato sauce (a little more is fine); set aside.
5. Add the olive oil to a wide, deep, heavy sauce pan and warm over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and stir briefly until fragrant.
6. Add the salt, pepper, brown sugar substitute, sage, thyme and parsley. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce mixture and beef stock; stir to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. After reaching a boil, add the meatballs and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and simmer, uncovered, for 35 minutes.
7. Carefully, remove the meatballs to a serving plate or bowl with a slotted spoon. If necessary, continue to boil and reduce the sauce until it reaches the desired consistency. For extra flavor and color, you may garnish with chopped chives or parsley.
Nutritional Information per 2 meatballs with 1/2 cup sauce: 548 calories, 6 g carbohydrate (1.5 g dietary fiber, 2.8 g sugars), 33.1 g total fat (11.8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 191 mg cholesterol, 754 mg sodium, 235.5 mg calcium, 456 mg potassium, 11 mg iron, 416 IU Vit A, 12 mg Vit C, 53.8 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 4.5 grams
Photo and recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2021
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without the author’s permission.