Sunday, August 26, 2012

Paleo Parents' Buffalo in a Pig's Blanket

I had a pretty busy weekend and wanted to cook something for the blog but didn't want to spend much time in the kitchen.  Luckily, I have quite a few frozen main dish portions in my freezer, so if I couldn't (or didn't want) to cook, I didn't have to do so.  I took out my recipe binder and searched for something quick and easy but that I had not tried before.  I'd take a picture of my binder, but its pretty boring even with its rainbow tabs.  When I find recipes I want to try on the internet, I print them and put them in the binder.  I've divided the binder into categories that make sense to me.  I've further divided each category into tried and untried recipes with a handy paperclip.  I decided upon a recipe from Paleo Parents for Buffalo in a Pig's Blanket.
Ingredients and paleo recipe binder in the background.

Because this is my first time making this recipe and as written it feeds 5-6 people, I decided to make a half batch.  First, I turned on my oven to preheat.  I then put all ingredients except for the bacon in a bowl and mixed it up with gloved hands.

I completely forgot to take a pre-mixed picture.  Oops.  I was a bit concerned as the mix seemed a bit too loose for meatball making.  I briefly considered adding some almond flour to firm up the mixture, but decided to stick with the recipe.  I formed the buffalo meatballs and then brought out the bacon!

I decided a full slice of bacon to wrap each meatball was too much, so I cut pieces to size.  I then used 2 shorter pieces together on some of the meatballs.  And carefully put them onto my skewers.  I bought these metal skewers very inexpensively and they have come in handy grilling outdoors and cooking in.  Its nice to not have to soak skewers and these go straight into the dishwasher.

I used an entire 8 ounce package of bacon for 14 meatballs.  The final two didn't fit on to the number of skewers I had pulled out of the pantry and out of pure laziness, I left them un-skewered on the sheet pan.  The recipe doesn't say to to cover the sheet pan in foil, but to make clean up easier, I decided to do so.

I put them in the preheated oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

What to do with 30 minutes?  Make green beans, of course!  This isn't a recipe really, but just as a easy example of how I make my vegetable sides during the week.

As tomorrow is the beginning of my work week, I knew I'd need a vegetable side for my lunch tomorrow, so I put enough green beans for two healthy portions into my saute pan.  I added enough vegetable broth to the bottom of the pan to steam the green beans a bit.  You could also use water.  I also put 5 cloves of minced garlic (using a press) in the pan.  I covered the beans for a a few minutes so that they would soften.
Yummy steamy green beans.
I took off my lid.  The vegetable broth had mostly evaporated and I threw in some grape tomatoes.  I also added about 1.5 tablespoons of ghee, salt and pepper.  I stirred and cooked it until the beans had gotten a little browned but not too soft.
Quick, tasty and easy side dish.
Once I finished cooking the green beans, I had enough time to handwash my saute pan and clean up everything I used preparing the meatballs with about 6 minutes to go before the meatballs were ready.
Not so pretty right out of the oven.
After 30 minutes, I took the meatballs out of the oven and they were not super pretty sitting in their fat.  I have nothing against pork fat of course, it just wasn't immediately aesthetically pleasing.

I cut one open to check for doneness and it looked good.  Although not indicated in the recipe, I put the meatballs on paper towels to drain a bit.

I put together my plate and sat down to taste.  I just have to say that if you have not tried sauteing some grape tomatoes, you're missing out.  They burst in your mouth with warm tomatoey goodness!

That looks much better. 
Accessibility and Cost of Ingredients:  I've not seen buffalo meat of any variety at my big box grocery store.  I've found it, generally frozen, at the "natural" grocery stores in town.  I paid $9.99 for 1 pound of grass fed ground buffalo.  A bit pricey for a pound of grass fed meat (whatever the animal).  The recipe says that you can use other ground meats.  Quality bacon is also a little on the expensive side.  The 8oz package of Applegate Farms bacon I used was $4.49 at my natural grocery store.  I really don't eat much bacon, so I don't mind paying for better quality when I do.  Everything else is easily found at your big box store, and if you cook at all, you'll likely have them at home already.

Prep and Cooking Time:  The recipe did not have a stated prep time.  It took me 20 minutes from start to putting the meatballs in the oven.  If I were to make this again, that time might go down as you get better at wrapping the meatballs in bacon.  Also, keep in mind, I only made a half recipe, so a full batch will take you longer.  The meatballs were done in the stated 30 minute cook time.

Clean up:  Clean up wasn't bad.  Since I foiled my sheet pan, it didn't need cleaning.  Everything I used for the meatballs, except for my pairing knife could go in the dishwasher.  If I hadn't put the foil on the sheet pan, clean up would have been more as you can see from the post-bake picture, so I highly recommend foiling your pan.

The Paleo Review:  Meh to Thumbs up.  The meatballs were quite rich with the bacon wrapped around them.  I plated 3 meatballs and really could have done with 2 they were so rich.  I could see why kids might like them.  These meatballs were easy to put together and I had most of the ingredients on hand.

I'd say other than the flavor of bacon, there really wasn't any other flavor to these meatballs.  I wonder if adding some other spices or pepper to the meat mix might help with that.  I like the taste of bacon, so no big deal, but then if I just want bacon, I'll just cook bacon.  Also, if I make these again, I will use a broiler pan or a sheet pan with a rack so that the fat can drip away and the bacon can crisp a bit more.

These might be good for appetizers for a small gathering.  I don't see why you couldn't assemble and refrigerate them the day before a party.  

Just for the sake of testing, I've frozen some of these and will update the post with a post freeze review.