The WHO’s stand on meat
The World Health Organization (WHO) has just sent shock waves through the earth’s stratosphere. What they said was something that anybody who has been following nutrition news in the past few years already knew.
WHO news: Processed meats cause cancer. And red meats probably cause cancer.
But unless you are genetically predisposed to the disease, the increased risk according to most experts is relatively low. Nevertheless, it’s real.
I gave up on processed meats a while ago but I am still an unequivocal carnivore. I love a thick steak and a slab of rare roast beef. As long as I can afford it money-wise, beef will continue to make its way onto my table.
But I also love poultry and fish, as well as the occasional beany dish. These foods will likely make up a few more of my menus in the days ahead. In fact, although I don’t do much of the shopping in my household, I can see the effect of WHO’s edict on our dinner table, already . My freezer is now stocked with Pacific cod, for the first time in a while!
Mom’s best meatball recipe ever
In the spirit of the WHO’s pronouncement, I made my mother’s famous Norwegian meat balls using ground turkey rather than ground beef. I confess, I left the pork in the recipe as is. It isn’t red, now is it? I know, I know…. The WHO has included pork in its dissing of red meats. But a little pork once in a while, in a favorite recipe like my mom’s meatballs or the Christmas tourtière, can’t hurt that much… Moderation is the key.
Lingonberry jelly is traditionally used with Norwegian meatballs. But substitute cranberry, red currant or raspberry jelly, if you need to. In the interests of fewer saturated fats from dairy, I also substituted coconut oil for butter, skim milk for whole, and 0% Greek yogurt for sour cream.
Kids should love these tender and flavorful (but not spicy) meatballs. Serve them with potatoes, brown rice or whole-grain noodles and a green or orange veggie, like broccoli or carrots. With luck, the antioxidants in the veggies will zap any cancer-causing chemicals in the pork before they do much harm.
Adela’s Norwegian Meatballs
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 large yellow or white onion, peeled, grated (through a cheese grater)
- 2 or 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2/3 cup skim milk
- 4-5 slices whole-grain bread cut into pieces, crusts removed
- 2 eggs
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon (freshly ground) nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced in thick chunks (optional)
- 6 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 quart pork or chicken stock
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup 0% Greek yogurt
- Salt to taste
- 2 to 4 tablespoons Lingonberry jelly (or other fruit jelly), to taste (optional)
- Sauté the onion in the butter over medium-high heat until the onions soften and turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan along with another tablespoon or so of coconut oil and saute until brown. Transfer to another bowl.
- In a third, large bowl, mix the bread pieces with the milk. Set aside for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread soaks up all the milk. When it does, pulverize the bread in a food processor and pour it into the large bowl.
- Add the cooled onions to the bowl of milk and bread. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients. Using your (clean) hands, mix well for about 2 minutes until the ingredients are well combined.
- Use a tablespoon to measure out the meat for the meatballs. As you form the meatballs, set each one aside on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or Silpat and sprayed or greased with canola oil. You should get 40 to 50 meatballs.
- Pop them into an oven preheated to 375F and bake for 20-30 minutes. Turn them half way through for even browning.
- Add the coconut oil to the pan you sauteed the onions in. Heat the butter on medium until hot. Slowly whisk in the flour. Stirring often, let the flour cook until it is the color of coffee-with-cream. This is a classic roux.
- As the roux is cooking, heat the stock in another pot until it simmers. When the roux is ready, slowly add the hot stock a little at a time. Everything sputters, and the sauce seizes up and solidifies. Keep stirring and adding stock slowly, and it will loosen up and become silky.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce and turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
- To finish, move the meatballs to a serving dish. Add the sour cream to the sauce and mix well. Remove from the heat immediately. It mustn’t get too hot or it will curdle. Either add the lingonberry jelly to the sauce or serve it on the side… or both.
For all the little meatball aficionados out there
What a great recipe for kids to help with. Make sure they wash their hands, then let them at it! Rolling meatballs is tons of tactile fun. While you are all working together on getting dinner on the table for the family, listen to this retro motivational song – On top of Spagetthi